Navy destroyer USS Delbert D. Black commissioned at Port Canaveral


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The USS Delbert D. Black’s home port will be in Mayport, which is located near Jacksonville.

Chris Bonanno

The U.S. Navy commissioned the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Delbert D. Black (DDG 119) in a ceremony Sept. 26 at Port Canaveral. 

The ship will call Mayport, near Jacksonville, its home. It will join other ships, including the USS Lassen, USS The Sullivans, USS Farragut, USS Thomas Hudner and USS Paul Ignatius homeported there. 

The commissioning is believed to be just the third-such event at the Port of a Navy vessel, according to Steven Linden, the director of communications and public affairs for the Canaveral Port Authority. The USS Porter was commissioned in March 1999 and the USS Mason in April 2003 at the port.

Linden said the Port played a role in last year’s commissioning of the USS Indiana, which took place at the Navy facility at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. 

The USS Delbert D. Black's commanding officer will be Cmdr. Matthew A. McKenna, who has earned six Navy commendation medals and three Navy achievement medals.

“It’s absolutely unique,” said McKenna of the ceremony. “It only happens once in the lifetime of the ship. This crew has worked extremely hard to get to this point.”

McKenna noted that the ship is more then 500 feet long and more then 71 feet wide. As many as 300 sailors will be on board.

“It’s not just something that takes on surface threats,” Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith said. “It’s got a role in air defense, it’s got a role in submarine screen and keeping bad things underneath the sea away from us.”

Smith also noted that the ship has been designed with the comfort of those on board in mind.

“The process of ship building has really taken into account what sailor needs are and the rack space, the innovation of their design, lights and plugs and things so that, you know, for modern electronics our young men and women can’t live without. They’ve got a way to manage those so the creature comforts on board, you know, even the galley and the mess decks, it’s light years beyond the ships that I’ve been on 32 years ago,” Smith said.

The ship is named after Black, who served as the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, according to the Navy’s website. Black was assigned to the USS Maryland based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and helped to defend and recover ships that were too damaged during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

While serving as Master Chief Petty Officer, Black established the Senior Enlisted Advisor Position, which eventually became known as Command Master Chief. Black also served at sea for 21 years on eight different ships. He passed away March 5, 2000.