CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston media were able to take a tour inside the USS Ralph Johnson Thursday before a public discussion with crew members at the VA Medical Center. The ship is set to be commissioned in Charleston on Saturday.
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.
The ship is 509 feet in length, has a beam of 66 feet, and a navigational draft of 31 feet. The ship is powered by four GE LM 2500 gas turbine engines driving twin controllable propellers to speeds up to 30 knots.
After commissioning in Charleston, she will make her way to her homeport in Everett, Washington.
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.
Johnson was killed instantly on March 5, 1968, when he used his body to shield two fellow Marines from a grenade when they came under attack on Hill 146 in enemy-controlled territory.
The Charleston VA Medical Center was also named for Johnson in 1991. The discussion is open to the public Thursday afternoon at 3:30 p.m.