The U.S. Navy’s newest warship, USS Michael Monsoor, was commissioned Saturday, with the mother of its namesake officially bringing the vessel to life at a special ceremony.
The 610-foot, 16,000-ton Zumwalt-class destroyer was commissioned at 10 a.m. at Naval Air Station North Island. It is named after fallen U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class SEAL Michael Monsoor, 25, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his courage in Iraq.
"I want to say thank to our military men and women — the best in the world," Monsoor's mother, Sally, said at Saturday’s commissioning ceremony.
Sally Monsoor, took part in the Navy’s time-honored tradition of giving the vessel’s crew those first orders to “man our ship and bring her to life!”
California Congressman Scott Peters delivered the key address at the ceremony.
"'You never quit,' those are the words Michael Monsoor wrote with permanent marker inside the camouflaged hat he wore through his buds training at the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado," Peters said. "Between the weapons and the radio, he usually carried an additional 100 pounds of equipment. He was a big guy. He was a strong guy."
USS Monsoor (DDG 1001) will eventually be homeported at Naval Base San Diego, and it will be operated by a crew of 148 sailors under the direction of Commanding Officer Capt. Scott Smith.
"This ship will keep Mikey's service alive and allow us to grip hands with him along after our watch is gone," Maj. Gen. Ronald Clark said.
The Navy gave media a first-hand look at the ship Thursday — and all of its bells and whistles, including its high-tech features that’ll make it more difficult for enemies to spot it out at sea.
“Our shape is pointy, and we have a tumblehome hull. It allows us to go through waves instead of going over them,” U.S. Navy Petty Officer Tarell Flowers explained.
Flowers likened the stealth ship’s capabilities to watching “a hot knife through butter.”
DDG 1001 was built by General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, and is powered by two Rolls-Royce main turbine generators, two Rolls-Royce auxiliary turbine generators, two 34.6 MW advanced induction motors to speeds up to 30-plus knots.
According to the Navy, this is the second Zumwalt class destroyer to enter its fleet. These types of destroyers are “the most lethal and sophisticated destroyers ever built,” the Navy said.
USS Monsoor also features several displays that pay tribute to Monsoor.
Monsoor was a Southern California native who grew up in Garden Grove, California, alongside his parents and three siblings. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on March 21, 2001, and entered Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training in Coronado, graduating with Class 250 on Sept. 2, 2004.
Monsoor deployed in April 2006 to Ramadi, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, where he served as a heavy weapons machine gunner, protecting his platoon from a frontal enemy attack, the Navy said. Monsoor earned a Bronze Star for his service during that time.
He was killed in Ramadi on Sept. 29, 2006, when he dropped onto a fragmentation grenade thrown by an insurgent in order to shield his fellow SEALS. He died from wounds suffered in the blast, the Navy said. Monsoor was posthumously awarded a Medal of Honor for his bravery and saving the lives of his fellow service members.
"It's Mike's last living act, his final act of love, to defend his teammates who couldn't defend themselves," Vice Adm. Timothy Szymanski said.
To learn more about Monsoor, watch the Navy's biography video here or below.