The US Navy is set to christen its newest Arleigh Burke-class Flight IIA guided missile destroyer at Pascagoula shipyard in Mississippi, naming it the USS Frank E Petersen Jr (DDG 121).

DDG 121 has been named after the US Marine Corps’ (USMC) first African-American aviator and officer, lieutenant general Frank E Petersen Jr.

The ship will be the 71st Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and the fifth of a total fleet of 21 DDG-51 vessels currently under contract with the US Navy.

US Navy secretary Richard V Spencer said: “The future USS Frank E Petersen Jr will serve for decades as a reminder of Lt Gen Petersen’s service to our nation and navy and Marine Corps team.

“This ceremony honours not only Petersen’s service but also the service of our nation’s industrial partners, who, for centuries, have helped make our navy the greatest in the world.”

The future USS Frank E Petersen Jr has been specifically designed to be configured as a Flight IIA destroyer. It supports power projection, forward presence and escort operations at sea to address low-intensity conflict / coastal and littoral offshore warfare, and open ocean conflict.

“The USS Frank E Petersen Jr will serve for decades as a reminder of Lt Gen Petersen’s service to our nation, navy and Marine Corps.”

Armed with the US Navy’s Aegis combat system, the 509.5ft-long vessel will feature a cooperative engagement capability, which will enable a number of ships and aircraft to connect their radars when integrated with the weapon system.

This will provide the navy with a composite picture of the battlespace and help effectively increase the theatre of operations.

Built by Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division, the nearly 9,500t DDG 121 destroyer features a waterline beam of 59ft and a navigational draft of 31ft.

In July, the US Navy launched the future USS Frank E Petersen Jr at HII shipyard in Pascagoula.

Designed to replace the Charles F Adams-class (DDG 2) ships, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers are multi-mission surface combatants capable of carrying out missions such as warfare (AAW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and anti-surface warfare (ASuW).