Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) announced today that its Ingalls Shipbuilding division christened the company’s 13th amphibious transport dock, Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD 29), constructed for the U.S. Navy. LPD 29 is named to honor U.S. Navy Capt. Richard M. McCool Jr., who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in rescuing survivors from a sinking destroyer and for saving his own landing support ship during a World War II kamikaze attack. His rescue efforts took place exactly 77 years prior to the day Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD 29) was christened. Under Secretary of the Navy Erik Raven was the keynote speaker.
“Richard M. McCool Jr. truly embodied the spirit of service above self,” Raven said. “The sailors and Marines who will sail on this future ship carry on that legacy following the example of spirit, patriotism and selflessness set by Richard M. McCool Jr.”
“For nearly two decades, we have had the opportunity to build these amphibious ships, and we look forward to continuing this journey with such a valued partner. Today we reflect on Richard M. McCool Jr.’s bravery and heroism in front of a ship that will carry another generation of brave sailors and Marines into missions defending our freedom,” Ingalls Shipbuilding President Kari Wilkinson said.
Richard M. McCool Jr. is co-sponsored by Shana McCool and Kate Oja, granddaughters of the ship’s namesake. Together, the two sponsors officially christened Richard M. McCool Jr. by smashing a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow of the ship. Shana spoke on behalf of both sponsors at today’s ceremony. When speaking about her grandfather’s heroic acts some 77 years ago, Shana McCool said, “To the commanding officer and future crew of this ship, may she (the ship) keep you safe. And in the words of our grandfather, may you always remember to fight as a unit and not as individuals.”
Launching Richard M. McCool Jr. is the first of a series of significant milestone events in bringing the ship to life, and eventual delivery to the U.S. Navy which is planned for later next year. Ingalls Shipbuilding is building the entire San Antonio class of ships, the newest addition to the Navy’s 21st century amphibious assault force. The 684-foot-long, 105-foot-wide ships that displace 25,000 tons are used to embark and land Marines, their equipment and supplies ashore via air cushion or conventional landing craft and amphibious assault vehicles, augmented by helicopters or vertical takeoff and landing aircraft such as the MV-22 Osprey.