U.S. Navy destroyer named after Florida sailor joins fleet

Guns fired a salute to the USS Delbert D. Black, as the navy commissioned its new destroyer Saturday morning in Port Canaveral.

The guest of honor at the ceremony was 99-year-old Ima Black, sailor Delbert Black's widow. She took the stage to pay tribute to her late husband and the ship that bears his name.

“This ship,” she said, “like its namesake, will be a powerful force as she plows through the seas of the world and she fights for our freedom and protects our shores.” 

The destroyer Delbert Black was named for the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, or MCPON. He served aboard the USS Maryland in Hawaii during the attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II and had a long and distinguished naval career, culminating with him earning the branch's highest enlisted rank.

The current MCPON, Russell Smith, addressed the crowd with a special message for Mrs. Black.

“As the matriarch of the Chief Petty Officer family, we wanted this day to arrive so badly, not just for MCPON Del Black and everything that he stood for, and his legacy of service, but for you every bit as much,” he said.

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At the end of the speeches, just before sailors hoisted the flag above the ship, Mrs. Black had a special order to give.

“Officers, friends, and crew of the USS Delbert D. Black,” she said, “man our ship and bring her to life!”

The sailors replied in unison: “Aye aye, ma'am!”