US Navy Commissions Newest Destroyer the USS Delbert D. Black

The USS Delbert D. Black undergoing sea trials.

USS Delbert D. Black is the newest destroyer in the US Navy and officially began service on September 26, 2020. It required more than a year of repairs after being damaged in a shipyard collision.

The USS Delbert D. Black is the 68th Arleigh-Burke class destroyer in the US Navy and the first commissioned this year. The ceremony was small and private due to COVID-19 concerns.

The ship is named for Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Delbert D. Black, the first person to hold that rank. It is the 32nd vessel in this class built by Ingalls Shipbuilding. The Black is the first US naval vessel to be named for a senior enlisted leader.

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Delbert D. Black.
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Delbert D. Black.

The Black’s homeport will be at Mayport Naval Station in Jacksonville, Florida.

Black’s widow, Ima Black, is the ship’s sponsor. She gave the first order to “man our ship and bring her to life.” Ima is a veteran sailor herself having served in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) during World War II.

The USS Delbert D. Black was reported ready to Admiral William K. Lescher by her commanding officer, Commander Matthew McKenna.

Ima Black, widow of Delbert D. Black. Image by Mthoma37 CC BY-SA 4.0
Ima Black, widow of Delbert D. Black. Image by Mthoma37 CC BY-SA 4.0

MCPON Black was the first to hold the role which acts as an advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations and to the Chief of Naval Personnel. The MCPON aids in matters that concern enlisted personnel and their families. The MPCON is the highest rank for enlisted personnel and serves as counsel to the highest Navy councils on enlisted guidance, leadership and policy.

Black was on board the USS Maryland in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941. He went on to serve in Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, the US Navy Ceremonial Guard in Washington, DC, Japan, Tennessee and Virginia.

Black was the first enlisted man to receive the Distinguished Service Medal. He also received the Navy Unit Commendation, Navy Good Conduct (7 stars), American Defense (1 star), American Campaign, Asiatic Pacific (8 stars), World War II Victory, China Service, Navy Occupation, National Defense (1 star), Korean Service, Vietnam Service (3 stars), Antarctica Service, United Nations, Philippine Liberation (2 stars), Philippine PUC, Vietnam Campaign with device, and Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross).

The USS Black was involved in an accident in March 2019 after completing its acceptance trials. A heavy-lift vessel struck a barge which, in turn, struck the Black. The destroyer took on water and required nearly a year of repairs before re-completing the acceptance trials.

Crew man the USS Delbert D. Black at the private commissioning ceremony at Port Canaveral.
Crew man the USS Delbert D. Black at the private commissioning ceremony at Port Canaveral.

At the commissioning ceremony, MCPON Black was remembered as one who fought for increased sea-pay, family support programs, expanded uniform guidance, and other issues which impact the quality of life for all sailors and officers.

Previously, the most recent destroyer to enter the Navy was the Paul Ignatius. Ingalls has four more destroyers under construction and recently received a contract for a fifth.

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MCPON Black retired from the US Navy in 1971 after serving for 30 years. He passed away on March 5, 2000. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.