LIHUE — The Navy announced Thursday it will name one of its next two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in honor of the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye.
“Sen. Inouye inspired us all by his lifelong dedication to the service of the people of Hawaii and our country,” U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said in a press release. “It is only fitting that we honor and memorialize his legacy.”
Inouye, who entered politics a few years after fighting for the U.S. in World War II, died in December while still in office and holding the title of U.S. Senate President Pro Tempore.
The other ship will honor former Secretary of the Navy Paul Ignatius.
“As secretary of the Navy it is my privilege to name these ships to honor a respected naval leader and a true American hero,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus in the release. “For decades to come, the future USS Paul Ignatius and USS Daniel Inouye will represent the U.S. and enable the building of partnerships and projection of power around the world.”
Inouye was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Tuscany, Italy, during World War II, when he lost his right arm, but still kept fighting against German enemies. He was a member of the highly decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and received a Bronze Star Medal, two Purple Hearts, and several other medals and citations. He was honorably discharged from the Army in 1947 as a captain.
“For decades to come, the USS Daniel Inouye will bear the name of one of our most distinguished soldiers from our greatest generation and will serve as a constant reminder of Hawaii’s own iconic American hero,” said Gabbard, a combat veteran. “I thank the U.S. Navy for their recognition of Sen. Inouye’s great commitment to our Armed Forces and our country.”
The late senator was known for championing education and military defense, and for bringing a vast amount of federal dollars to the islands. He was responsible for much of the funding coming in to the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Mana, Kauai’s Westside, and to the University of Hawaii system.
Earlier this month, the Kilauea Lighthouse celebrated 100 years, and was rededicated as Sen. Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Point Lighthouse.
The future USS Daniel Inouye (DGG 118) and the future USS Paul Ignatius (DDG 117) are part of the DDG 51 multi-year procurement with the contract award to the building yard pending. The ships will be 509 feet long, have a beam length of 59 feet and be capable of operating at speeds in excess of 30 knots.
USS Daniel Inouye and USS Paul Ignatius will be the first naval ships to bear these names, according to the Navy.
Arleigh Burke-class destroyers conduct a variety of operations from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection. They are capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and contain a myriad of offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime warfare.
Ignatius served as Secretary of the Navy from 1967 to 1969, and as assistant secretary of defense under President Lyndon Johnson.
• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or lazambuja@ thegardenisland.com.