CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- The long journey for the U.S.S. Frank E. Petersen Junior to be an official United States Navy guided missile destroyer will end in Charleston on Saturday.
The new ship will be commissioned at 10 a.m. at the Columbus Street Port Terminal.
“We loved the feel, the look and the hospitality when we came to visit. I had the honor of previously pulling in a destroyer (to Charleston),” said Commanding Officer (CO) Daniel Hancock. “I’m overwhelmed with joy and pride. When you walk around you can see big smiles on my sailor’s faces. It’s well justified. They’ve earned it.”
While Captain Hancock and his sailors are smiling about the new ship, its the second officer in command who is smiling wider.
Executive Officer (XO) Chad Stewart’s first assignment in the U.S. Navy was in Charleston and now he’s back in the Lowcountry. Stewart was 17 years old when he enlisted out of high school and came to the Holy City in 1989 for nuclear power school.
“My favorite thing here was to go down to the battery and to explore the old forts, Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie, as well as the national parks here,” said XO Stewart. “This was my first duty station and I was excited to get started in my Navy career here in this lovely city.”
The U.S. Navy tries to commission ships around the country so many different people can see a new and ready for action vessel.
The U.S.S. Petersen Junior’s crew of 300 will have their families in attendance on Saturday morning. XO Stewart still has family in the Lowcountry and is excited to take them around where we got his start.
“It feels wonderful. The first ship I ever set foot on was the U.S.S. Yorktown with my dad back in 1989. He told me it would be pretty awesome to have command of a ship one day,” said XO Stewart.
At some point, Captain Hancock will hand the ship over the XO Stewart’s command. When that happens, XO Stewart will have a dream come true.
“Hopefully soon I’ll be taking command of this ship, but this is the circle of life. It feels wonderful to be back here as the XO to commission this wonderful warship having started my Navy career here,” said XO Stewart.