BATH, Maine — Sally Monsoor’s voice broke Saturday morning as she spoke of her son, Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, at the christening of the DDG 1001 guided-missile destroyer named for the Medal of Honor recipient.
“Mike was very loyal, silent and determined, but he was a character,” Monsoor said during brief remarks before breaking a bottle of champagne over the bow of the future USS Michael Monsoor before a large crowd gathered next to the Kennebec River at Bath Iron Works.
Sally Monsoor, her daughter and her daughter-in-law were escorted to the bow of the destroyer by members of SEAL Team 3, Delta Platoon, with which her son served.
The second of three Zumwalt-class destroyers to be built at Bath Iron Works, DDG 1001 is named for Michael Monsoor, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Iraq on Sept. 29, 2006. The Navy SEAL threw himself onto a grenade in order to protect nearby members of his unit and others.
Monsoor’s actions saved three fellow SEALs and eight Iraqi soldiers, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said Saturday.
“This story of astonishing valor is heightened by this fact: Of the 12 [people], only Navy SEAL Monsoor was in a position to escape the blast. Instead, this man … made the ultimate sacrifice,” Collins said.
“The grenade hit him in the chest and bounced on the ground before he dove on it,” U.S. Sen. Angus King said. “It was knowing and deliberate. He was completely conscious of the sacrifice he was about to make.”
Retired Vice Adm. Joseph Maguire, president and CEO of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, said Saturday that he was in command when Monsoor was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2008. Maguire noted the DDG 1000 was named for former chief of Naval Operations, Adm. T. Zumwalt, and third will be named for former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson.
“I am certain both Adm. Zumwalt and President Lyndon B. Johnson would be proud to be associated with Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor,” Maguire said. “The Navy owes the Monsoor family a debt that can never be paid. … This ship is just a symbol of that.”
Construction of the 610-foot-long destroyer — described by Collins as “the most advanced Naval destroyer the world has ever seen, built in a state-of-the-art facility by the industry’s most skilled hands” — began in March 2010.
The ship features two advanced gun systems that fire long-range, land-attack projectiles up to 63 nautical miles, designed to support ground troops. The destroyers operate on an advanced power system with “four massive gas turbine engines that generate 78 megawatts of power, according to Undersecretary of the Navy Janine Davidson.
The Navy officially accepted the first-in-class USS Zumwalt during a private ceremony last month at the shipyard. A keel-laying ceremony for the DDG 1002, the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson, is tentatively scheduled for early 2017.
Construction of the class of “stealth destroyers,” which was truncated at three ships, will cost an estimated $12.74 billion.
Following the christening, BIW officials were scheduled to begin moving the future USS Michael Monsoor from the Land Level Transfer Facility to the dry dock, and on Monday the dry dock will move into the middle of the Kennebec River and be ballasted, allowing the ship to float off, according to a release from BIW.