This post was written by Mr. Daniel Murphy, father to Medal of Honor recipient and Navy SEAL, Lt. Michael Murphy, following the June 18th keel laying ceremony for the destroyer named for his son. The opinions expressed are his own.
The family, myself, Maureen, John and author Gary Williams of Michael’s biography “SEAL of Honor” arrived in Bath Maine on Thursday night June 17th and met with members of the Casco Bay Navy League to discuss Michael’s life and for the family to sign and autograph books. The family met the CO of USS Jason Dunham and a number of the ships’ officers and crew who were assigned as an honor guard to stand over Michael’s Medal of Honor.
The family on June 18th arrived at the Bath Iron Works facility and spoke to the Navy media and press about our feelings and comments on this day in which the keel of USS Michael Murphy would be laid. We then proceed over to the Bath Facility where the ceremony was to take place at 11:00 am. It was a beautiful day with sunny skies and warm weather and seemed perfect to lay the keel on a warship named after a Navy SEAL. We stood at the precipice of a SEAL’s environment where sea, air and land meet and therein lies the first section and hull of USS Michael Murphy. Michael’s maternal grandparents, Frank & Kathleen Jones were in attendance along with Michael’s god mother and a number of family and friends (including close family friend, David Peabody of Defense Standard magazine who traveled up from Tampa to attend) as well as the XO of SEAL Team 10 from Little Creek, Virginia. The first thing the family noticed outside of the rather large metal structure representing the hull of the ship was a canvas or vinyl sign which was erected to hang on the ship while it is under construction. By the way, Defense Standard magazine will be running a number of articles about the ship building, pictures of the various stages of the ship and the christening and commissioning as the events occur in their quarterly magazine. So be sure to pick up a copy if you want to see and read about the ship.
The large 20 x 40 foot canvas or vinyl sign has pictures of Michael in both his dress blues and the famous photo of Michael with a beard in Afghanistan which is the photo on the cover of his new biography “SEAL of Honor” with his awards and the Medal of Honor prominently displayed while on the left side a rather large picture or photo of one of Michael’s teammates still with the teams under a caption that says “Do it for the Murph.” The ship builders at Bath Iron Works are inspired by the sign and saying and even more committed (if that’s possible) to making USS Michael Murphy the finest ship to sail out of BIW. We were told that the men and women at Bath are proud that there welds are considered the finest in the Industry. The folks up in BIW are wonderful and extremely proud of their workmanship which goes into the ships built in Bath Maine. We were quite overwhelmed with the reception we received.
Scott Kay, the program manager for the DDG series started the ceremony with an address to the assembled crowd and then Maureen, John and I along with a Bath welder did the honors of engraving our initials into the metal keel plate which would be welded into place in the ship’s hull.
The family, friends and Navy personnel were then taken on a tour of the BIW boat yard where we had the opportunity to see the other structures being built which will be joined to make USS Michael Murphy including the bow, hull, stern with Michael’s name on it, the radar and weapons array and the other massive hull structures which make up the ship. I couldn’t believe the size of the gas tanks on these ships which were laying in the yard…massive is an understatement. These pieces will be joined together in the next 9 months to a year to form the ship for a christening date to be determined in the late spring of 2011. We also were invited onto the sister ship of USS Michael Murphy, the Jason Dunham (DDG 109) (which is basically complete and ready for commissioning) for a tour of what Michael’s ship will look like. The Jason Dunham is an impressive ship and the crew assigned are real professionals. Woe to the enemy that attempts to take on the US Navy and these fine warships. Put your money on the US Navy and give the odds. These are truly special ships.
That’s all for now. God Bless America, USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) and the Michael Murphy (DDG 112) and all who serve and remember all our fallen heroes. God Speed.