Arleigh Burke Destroyer Named USS Gravely

July 4, 2009 by  

Newest Arleigh Burke Destroyer Named USS Gravely

Navy News | September 13, 2006

Washington D.C. – The Department of the Navy announced Sept. 12 that the Navy’s newest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer will be USS Gravely, honoring the late Vice Adm. Samuel L. Gravely Jr.

Chief of Naval Personnel, Vice Adm. John Harvey announced the honor during remarks at the National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Conference.

“It’s fitting that this type of ship be named after a man who was able to set a true course for our nation’s Navy, and at the same time transform challenges into accomplishments and lead the way for a future generation of naval warfighters,” said Harvey.

Samuel Lee Gravely Jr. was born in Richmond, Va., June 4, 1922. After attending Virginia Union University, he enlisted in the Naval Reserve in September 1942. In 1943, he participated in a Navy program (V-12) designed to select and train highly qualified men for commissioning as officers in the Navy. Dec. 14, 1944, Gravely successfully completed Midshipman training, becoming the first African American commissioned as an officer from the Navy Reserve Officer Training Course. He was released from active duty in April 1946, but remained in the Naval Reserve.

Gravely was recalled to active duty in 1949. As part of the Navy’s response to President Harry Truman’s executive order to desegregate the armed services, his initial assignment was as a Navy recruiter, recruiting African Americans in the Washington, D.C. area. Gravely went on to a Navy career that lasted 38 years and included many distinguished accomplishments.

Gravely was a true pathfinder whose performance and leadership as an African American naval officer demonstrated to America the value and strength of diversity. Gravely’s accomplishments served as watershed events for today’s Navy. He was the first African American to command a warship (USS Theodore E. Chandler (DD 717)); command a major warship (USS Jouett (DLG 29)); to achieve flag rank and eventually vice admiral; and to command a numbered fleet (U.S. 3rd).

USS Gravely will provide a dynamic multimission platform to lead the Navy into the future. Utilizing a gas turbine propulsion system, the ship can operate independently or as part of carrier battle groups, surface action groups, amphibious ready groups, and underway replenishment groups. The ship’s combat systems center on the Aegis combat system and the SPY-lD, multifunction phased array radar. The combination of Aegis, the Vertical Launching System, an advanced anti-submarine warfare system, advanced anti-aircraft missiles and Tomahawk, the Burke-class continues the revolution at sea.


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