Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro attends National Maritime Day to honor the U.S. Merchant Marine on May 22, 2024.

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro attends National Maritime Day to honor the U.S. Merchant Marine on May 22, 2024. (William Bennett/U.S. Navy)

The USS Richard J. Danzig (DDG 143) and the USS Michael G. Mullen (DDG 144) will be the names of the next two Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers.

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro made the announcement Wednesday during a ceremony for U.S. Naval Academy Commencement Week, the Navy announced.

“Secretary Danzig and Admiral Mullen were visionary leaders in the mold of the greatest naval leaders that came before. Together they have nearly 100 years of service,” Del Toro said. “Both Secretary Danzig and Adm. Mullen worked tirelessly to ensure our sailors and Marines had the resources, technologies and capabilities to set them up for success. I am proud to honor them with these new DDGs.”

Mullen, who commissioned into the Navy in 1968, had a long and distinguished career.

He first deployed aboard the USS Collett for operations off the coast of Vietnam as part of U.S. Seventh Fleet. His command tours include the USS Noxubee, USS Goldsboro, USS Yorktown, Cruiser-Destroyer Group 2 with concurrent duties as commander of the USS George Washington Aircraft Carrier Battle Group, U.S. Second Fleet with concurrent command of NATO Striking Fleet Atlantic, and U.S. Naval Forces, Europe with concurrent command of Allied Joint Force Command located in Naples, Italy. 

Mullen also served as Chief of Naval Operations and the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (2007-2011).

Mullen was chairman of the Joint Chiefs in 2010 when the Navy announced it would begin including women in the submarine community. He was part of the push to make that happen.

“This is an honor of a lifetime, and one I certainly never expected,” Mullen said in a statement. “It says so much about the Navy that I love, and it represents most of my life at sea. So, along with my wife, Deborah, and my family, this is just something that is so very, very special.”

Danzig served as the 71st secretary of the Navy (1993-1997). During his tenure, according to the Navy statement, he focused on four areas:

• Ridding the services of “a conscript mentality” by treating sailors and Marines as skilled workers and supporting them with new capital investments and personnel systems.

• Achieving better synergy between the Navy and Marine Corps.

• Strengthening the ability of the sea services to influence events ashore,

• Embracing new technologies to better achieve those goals.

“This is such a wonderful honor. It’s certainly a wonderful and touching thing,” Danzig said. “What is most important to me is that this provides a connection among all of the Sailors who will be on this ship.”

Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, built around the Aegis Combat System, are the backbone of the the surface fleet, according to the Navy. They are multi-mission destroyers able to conduct anti-aircraft warfare with Aegis and surface-to-air missiles; tactical land strikes with Tomahawk missiles; anti-submarine warfare with towed array sonar, anti-submarine rockets and ASW helicopters; and anti-surface warfare with ship-to-ship missiles and guns.

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