Date set for commissioning of USS Ralph Johnson in Charleston

Date set for commissioning of USS Ralph Johnson in Charleston
Marine Pfc. Ralph Johnson died heroically in Vietnam in 1968. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs)
Marine Pfc. Ralph Johnson died heroically in Vietnam in 1968. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The future USS Ralph Johnson, the Navy's 64th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, will be commissioned in Charleston 50 years after its namesake's death.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said the ship will be commissioned on March 24, 2018, according to the Navy's website.

It was named for Marine Pfc. Ralph Henry Johnson, a Charleston native who received the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroism during the Vietnam War.

The ship was launched on Dec. 12, 2015, and christened on April 2, 2016, during ceremonies at the Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

It completed its builder's trials on July 20.

Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are multi-mission ships that conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence to national security.  The vessel's capabilities include providing improved detection and reaction against modern air warfare threats and ballistic missile defense. The ship's Aegis Combat System will allow it to link radars with other ships and aircraft to provide a composite picture of the battlespace.

New ships in this class are equipped with anti-ballistic missile capabilities as well.

After commissioning in Charleston, she will make her way to her homeport in Everett, Washington.

Johnson was killed instantly on March 5, 1968, when, under attack on Hill 146 in enemy-controlled territory, he used his body to shield two fellow Marines from a grenade.

The Charleston VA Medical Center was also named for Johnson in 1991.

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