Ingalls launches USS Richard M. McCool Jr., the latest amphibious assault ship
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (Tribune News Service) — With a gentle assist from tugboats, LPD 29 lifted off the floating dry dock as Ingalls Shipbuilding launched the latest in its line of amphibious assault transport ships last week.
The USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD 29) is the 13th in the San Antonio class of amphibious assault force ships. Launching is one in a series of significant milestone events in bringing a ship to life, with LPD 29 expected to be delivered to the U.S. Navy later next year.
“The LPD class ships, like all of our programs, are critically important to U.S. national security,” said Ingalls president Kari Wilkinson. “In addition, thousands of Americans, from engineers to electricians, have worked on LPD 29 over the years.
“Ingalls Shipbuilding is proud to build them and even more proud of the talented people that make up our shipbuilding team.”
Ingalls is the nation’s sole builder of the San Antonio class, state-of-the-art ships designed to support U.S. amphibious assault, special operations and expeditionary warfare missions in the 21st century.
The 684-foot long ships displace 25,000 tons and are used to transport and land U.S. Marines, equipment and supplies ashore via air cushion or conventional landing craft and amphibious assault vehicles, supported by helicopters or vertical takeoff/landing aircraft such as the MV-22 Osprey.
LPD 29 is the first U.S. Navy ship named in honor of World War II hero Richard M. McCool Jr., who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty” as commanding officer of infantry landing support craft at the Battle of Okinawa in June 1945.
McCool graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1944 and was commissioned a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. On June 10, 1945, off the coast of Okinawa, McCool helped rescue the survivors of the sinking destroyer USS William D. Porter. The following day, his own ship was hit and severely damaged by a Japanese kamikaze aircraft.
Despite suffering severe burns and shrapnel wounds during the attack, McCool continued to lead his crew in the firefighting and rescue efforts.
McCool also served in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars and retired from the Navy with the rank of Captain in 1974, ending a distinguished 30-year career. He died of natural causes in 2008 at the age of 86.
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