-- Sailors on the Navy's newest destroyer are scheduled to arrive with their ship at Naval Base San Diego, July 1.
The guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), the 60th Arleigh Burke class destroyer, was built in Pascagoula, Miss. and commissioned during a ceremony at the Alabama State Docks in Mobile, Ala. June 4.
After commissioning, the ship departed Mobile and sailed through the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea and Panama Canal into the Pacific Ocean on its voyage to its homeport of San Diego.
Cmdr. Thomas R. Williams II is the first commanding officer of the 9,200-ton warship's 280-person crew.
"It is wonderful to celebrate our homecoming on the 4th of July weekend with our families," said Williams. "Our goal as a command for the past year was to make it home by the 4th, and I'm very proud of the Lawrence warriors who worked so hard to make it possible."
The new destroyer honors the late Vice Adm. William P. Lawrence, an accomplished leader and the first naval aviator to fly twice the speed of sound. During the Vietnam War, as commanding officer of Fighter Squadron 143, Lawrence was awarded the Silver Star for a strike against a heavily defended target in North Vietnam. He completed his mission, but was captured after his aircraft went down in June 1967 and remained a prisoner of war (POW) until March 1973. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his leadership to fellow POWs.
While a POW, Vice Adm. Lawrence composed a poem entitled "Oh Tennessee, My Tennessee," which was subsequently designated as the official poem of the State of Tennessee by the state legislature.
The ship is capable of carrying Tomahawk missiles, anti-submarine torpedoes, surface-to-air missiles, as well as a five-inch gun and two SH-60 helicopters.
William P. Lawrence helps provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the sea and humanitarian/disaster response within 3rd Fleet's 50-million square mile area of responsibility in the Eastern Pacific, as well as supporting the Navy's Maritime Strategy when forward deployed.