PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii -- The U.S. Navy commissioned its newest guided-missile destroyer, USS Daniel Inouye (DDG 118), Dec. 8, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
More than 1,000 guests including service members, veterans, and their families witnessed as the Navy’s 69th Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer joined the fleet.
The ship honors the local hero and statesman, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye. Sen. Inouye was a U.S. senator from Hawaii who served in congress from 1962 until his death in 2012. During World War II, Inouye served in the U.S. Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team, one of the most decorated military units in U.S. history. For his combat heroism, which cost him his right arm, Inouye was awarded the Medal of Honor.
During the ceremony, Ken Inouye, Daniel Inouye’s son, thanked the crew and the commissioning committee for honoring his father.
“I hope that in the spirit of aloha and the spirit of ohana you all consider yourselves a part of our ohana,” said Inouye.
Guest speakers for the event also included the governor of Hawaii, David Ige, Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Carlos Del Toro, and Adm. Samuel Paparo, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Paparo and Del Toro spoke about the Inouye’s capabilities as a warfighting vessel in the Pacific fleet.
“This ship, the USS Daniel Inouye, will join the U.S. Pacific Fleet and the Indo-Pacom joint team,” said Paparo. “This ship and its crew are ready to assume its critical mission: The defense and safeguarding of the well-being and interests of our nation.”
“As a former destroyer captain, I know first hand about the ability, versatility and distributive power this ship will add to our deterrent capabilities,” said Del Toro. “There is absolutely no more of a fitting name for this ship than Sen. Inouye.”
Prior to her passing on April 7, 2020, Sen. Inouye’s wife, Mrs. Irene Hirano Inouye, executed her duties as the ship’s sponsor by establishing a strong bond with the crew during traditional shipbuilding milestones at Bath Iron Works. At the keel laying in 2018, she welded her initials into the keel of the ship. In 2019, Irene broke a bottle of champagne on the bow in a christening ceremony bestowing the name on the ship. During a “mast stepping” ceremony, she placed items special to Sen. Inouye in the ship’s mast.
Mrs. Inouye appointed two Matrons of Honor to assist her with her sponsorship duties: Jessica Inouye, the wife of Senator Inouye’s only son Ken, and Jennifer Sabas, Senator Inouye’s former chief of staff and current executive director of the Daniel K. Inouye Institute.
“I ask that the crew be confident, yet humble. Take initiative, but be a team player. Remember that compassion and kindness are not weakness, and learn to disagree without being disagreeable,” said Sabas. “Those were the values the senator lived by.”
During the ceremony, the senator's granddaughter and ceremonial maid of honor, 11-year-old Maggie Inouye, gave the traditional order, “Man our ship and bring her to life!”
After reporting the ship ready for duty, the ship’s commanding officer, Cmdr. DonAnn Gilmore recognized her crew’s hard work.
“No captain could ask for more. You have embodied the motto 'Go for Broke’ at every challenge,” said Gilmore. “I have to look no further than the rails of the ship behind me to renew my faith in humanity and to maintain my confidence in our country’s future.”
The commissioning ceremony coincided with 80th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor Remembrance commemoration events and caps a weeklong series of events celebrating the ship and its namesake. On December 7, 1941, Inouye was a 17-year-old senior at Honolulu’s McKinley High School, and rushed to a Red Cross aid station to help civilians and Sailors wounded in the attack.
USS Daniel Inouye, the first U.S. warship to bear its name, is nearly 510 feet in length and has a navigational draft of 33 feet. Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers are the backbone of the U.S. Navy's surface fleet and critical to the future Navy. They are highly capable, multi-mission ships, and can conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management, to sea control and power projection – all in support of the United States military strategy.