Newest destroyer due at Pearl Harbor honors Medal of Honor recipient Michael Murphy
By William Cole | The Honolulu Star-Advertiser | Published: November 20, 2012
HONOLULU — The destroyer named for a Pearl Harbor SEAL who gave his life for fellow commandos in Afghanistan will pull into its new home port in Hawaii on Wednesday morning.
The ship honors Lt. Michael P. Murphy, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005.
Murphy was the first person to be awarded the medal for actions in Afghanistan, and the first member of the Navy to receive the award since the Vietnam War. The ship was commissioned last month in Manhattan, N.Y.
After leaving New York, the ship made stops in Norfolk, Va., Barbados, Mexico and San Diego.
Rear Adm. Frank Ponds, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, will welcome commanding officer Cmdr. Thomas Shultz and his crew of 279 officers and enlisted personnel, as well as their families, to their new home.
"It is a special privilege to bring the Navy's newest surface ship to our waterfront," Ponds said. "USS Michael Murphy is joining a great team here with the finest shore support imaginable. They are coming to a welcoming and supportive community here in Hawaii where they will be greeted with the spirit of aloha and made part of our ohana."
Murphy, 29, from Patchogue, N.Y., was one of 19 U.S. military personnel killed in the Hindu Kush mountains of eastern Afghanistan — three in a firefight with the enemy and 16 on a helicopter shot down as it flew in to aid Murphy's unit.
Five of the SEALs killed, including Murphy, were with SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1, based at Pearl City Peninsula.
It began when a fierce gunbattle erupted between a four-man SEAL team led by Murphy and dozens of enemy fighters high in the remote mountains of Kunar province.
Intent on making contact with headquarters, Murphy, wounded and disregarding his own safety, moved into the open to get a better position to transmit a call for help for his men, the Navy said.
At one point he was shot in the back, causing him to drop the transmitter, but Murphy retrieved it, completed the call and continued firing on the enemy.
When it was over, 11 SEALs had been killed — the greatest loss for Naval Special Warfare since World War II — along with eight Army "Night Stalkers" assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.
At the ship's commissioning Oct. 6, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, said, "USS Michael Murphy, the most flexible, lethal and multimission-capable ship of its kind, represents the backbone of our surface combatant fleet. It is one of the best destroyers in the world. This ship will operate forward around the globe, assuring allies, projecting power and defending our nation. And, like its namesake, Lt. Michael Murphy, this ship will serve to protect, influence and win in an era of uncertainty."
The 9,200-ton Michael Murphy is 509 feet long, has a waterline beam of 59 feet and a navigational draft of 31 feet.
The guided missile destroyer will deploy periodically from Hawaii under the Middle Pacific Surface Combatant deployment concept in which Pearl Harbor-based ships are ready to deploy forward in support of operations primarily in the Western Pacific under the U.S. 7th Fleet, the Navy said.
"This new member of our team demonstrates a commitment to rebalance to the Pacific, where we are always ready to operate forward," Ponds said.