Press Release: The USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) will be commissioned June 4, 2011 at the Alabama State Port Authority docks in a ceremony co-hosted by the City of Pensacola and the City of Mobile.
The commissioning was originally planned for NAS Pensacola as part of the celebration of the Centennial of Naval Aviation. Mobile offered to co-host the ceremony at Mobile port after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced the channel leading to the Pensacola base would not be dredged to an adequate depth in time for the commissioning.
“The Navy is extremely selective about who can and should be approved to host such an event,” said Admiral Robert Kelly, USN (Ret), vice chairman of Armed Services for the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce. “The fact that the community of Mobile stepped in to offer their support when the dredging could not happen here, shows the commitment of this entire region to our military.”
The 500-foot, guided-missile destroyer, built in Pascagoula, Miss., is named for Vice Admiral William Porter Lawrence, a noted pilot who was the first Naval Aviator to fly twice the speed of sound and was a finalist to become a Mercury astronaut. After being shot down over North Vietnam and spending almost six years as a prisoner of war, Lawrence became Superintendent of the United States Naval.
“Hosting the commissioning of a ship named after a Naval Aviator of this caliber by Pensacola, the Cradle of Naval Aviation, is a true honor,” said Adm. Kelly.
The William P. Lawrence is designed to support maritime warfare far into the 21st century and is capable of simultaneously fighting air, surface and subsurface battles. The ship’s first commanding officer is Commander Thomas R. Williams who will lead a crew of more than 300.
The Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce will continue to organize other events in Pensacola to celebrate the Centennial of Naval Aviation through the end of the year, including a month long celebration of Military Appreciation Month in May. For more information, visit www.pensacolachamber.com.
We are having to do this because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers didn’t dredge the Pensacola Pass in time.