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Pearl Harbor welcomes its newest destroyer

USS Frank E. Petersen in Pearl Harbor
USS Frank E. Petersen Jr. (DDG 121), arrives at its new homeport, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Photo: US Navy

The US Navy’s newest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS Frank E. Petersen, Jr. (DDG 121), arrived at its homeport at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on June 13, after entering service last month.

The ship honors Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. (USMC Ret.). Petersen was the first black USMC aviator and the first black Marine to become a three-star general.

USS Frank E. Petersen, Jr. officially entered service in a ceremony in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 14, after it was launched at HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding division in August 2018. The ship was delivered to the navy in March this year.

“This warship honors the legacy of a great American, symbolized in US steel and manifested in the proud Sailors before you. My crew and I share a deep sense of pride and honor to represent our namesake, the late Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr., USMC,” said Cmdr. Daniel Hancock, Frank E. Petersen, Jr.’s commanding officer.

“We are excited to call Hawaii home, a place that holds fond memories for the Petersen family who served here. We look forward to being good neighbors in the community. In Pearl Harbor, history is not only studied but lived every day. We know that war can come at any time but we know that we will not be alone; we are enthusiastic about joining our fellow greyhounds in Destroyer Squadron 31 – Ke Koa O Ke Kai – The Warriors of the Sea. This ship is fast, formidable, and built to fight and win in the Pacific Theater. This is a great ship, with a proud name, and a wonderful crew; we are thrilled to be here in Hawaii, ready for fleet service.”

General Petersen served two combat tours, Korea in 1953 and Vietnam in 1968. He flew more than 350 combat missions and had over 4,000 hours in various fighter and attack aircraft. Lt. Gen. Petersen passed away in August 2015 at the age of 83.

DDG 121 is an Arleigh Burke-class Flight IIA guided missile destroyer equipped with the Aegis baseline 9C2 combat system, which includes integrated air and missile defense capability and enhanced ballistic missile defense capabilities.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Several is home to several Pacific Air Force and Navy units, including the Pacific Air Forces Headquarters, the 15th Wing, Commander Pacific Fleet, and Commander Submarine Force US Pacific Fleet.