Navy’s newest destroyer headed for new homeport of San Diego

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The Navy's newest destroyer, the USS William P. Lawrence, is just days away from arriving at its homeport of San Diego.

The guided-missile destroyer, which carries Tomahawk missiles, anti- submarine torpedoes, surface-to-air missiles, a five-inch gun and two SH-60 helicopters, will sail into San Diego Friday, according to Naval Surface Forces Third Fleet public affairs office.

The Lawrence was built in Pascagoula, Miss., and commissioned during a ceremony at the Alabama State Docks in Mobile, Ala., June 4. It then sailed through the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea and Panama Canal into the Pacific Ocean en route to San Diego, Naval officials said.

With a crew of 280, the 9,200-ton warship is named for the late Vice Adm. William P. Lawrence, the first naval aviator to fly twice the speed of sound.

As commanding officer of Fighter Squadron 143, Lawrence was awarded the Silver Star for a strike against a heavily defended target in North Vietnam. He completed his mission but was captured after his aircraft went down in June 1967 and remained a prisoner of war until March 1973. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his leadership of fellow POWs.

Lawrence, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, served as Academy superintendent 1978-1981.

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