February 21, 2019
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Bath-built destroyer named for fallen Iraq war hero to be commissioned in San Diego

Stephen Betts | BDN
Stephen Betts | BDN
Streamers fill the air following the christening of the U.S.S. Rafael Peralta at Bath Iron Works in 2015.

BATH, Maine — Five months after the U.S. Navy accepted delivery of the Bath-built Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the future USS Rafael Peralta will be commissioned Saturday in its homeport of San Diego, California.

The DDG 115, the first Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer built in Bath since the Navy restarted the program, is named for U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Rafael Peralta, who was killed in the battle of Fallujah and posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for heroism.

Peralta, 25, of San Diego was killed in November 2004 while he and other Marines were clearing houses of insurgents. As the insurgents fled, one tossed a grenade that landed next to Peralta, who reached out and pulled the grenade to his body. He absorbed the blast, shielding his fellow Marines who were only feet away.

Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Peralta’s mother, Rosa Maria Peralta, serves as the ship’s sponsor, according to a release from the U.S. Navy.

“This commissioning memorializes the life of Sgt. Rafael Peralta and marks the beginning of what will be decades of exceptional service for this ship,” Sean Stackley, acting secretary of the Navy, said in the release.

The $1.5 billion destroyer, the 64th Arleigh Burke, was christened Oct. 31, 2016, and launched the following day. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, it will be homeported in San Diego.

The class was restarted in 2010 after the Navy truncated the Zumwalt class of guided missile destroyers at three, all of which were built at BIW.

The first DDG 1000, the USS Zumwalt, left Bath in September. The DDG 1001, the future USS Michael Monsoor, and the DDG 1002, the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson, are under construction at BIW.

The shipyard has six Arleigh Burkes in the pipeline: Construction of the DDG 118, the future USS Daniel Inouye, began in April 2015, and construction of the DDG 120, the future USS Carl Levin, began in the fall of 2015. A start ceremony for the DDG 122, the future USS John Basilone, was held in May, BIW spokesman David Hench said Friday.

BIW has also been awarded contracts for the DDG 124, the future USS Harvey Barnum Jr., which a spokesman previously said would get underway this year, and the DDG 126, the future USS Louis H. Wilson Jr., which is not yet under construction.

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