Sept. 26 (UPI) — The USS Delbert Black was commissioned at Port Canaveral in Florida on Saturday.
The ceremony was private, with a small number of in-person guests and speakers, due to COVID-19. But it was livestreamed, with some Navy and political leaders delivering remarks remotely.
Those attending in person included Ima Black, widow of Delbert Black, the Navy’s first Master Chief Petty Officer and the ship’s namesake, and James Geurts, the Navy’s assistant secretary of research, development and acquisition.
Speakers praised the ship’s namesake, who oversaw the creation of the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy during the Vietnam War and guided the branch through that era.
Russel L. Smith, the Navy’s current MCPON, was the principal speaker, and several of Black’s successors delivered remarks virtually via video chat.
“Every sailor should know and appreciate the role MCPON Black played in elevating the role of and the appreciation for enlisted leadership. Much of the respect you and your selfless service receive today is a direct result of Del overcoming monumental hurdles, including outright rejection in some quarters, to establish the MCPON office and the hard work of subsequent MCPONs who carried what he began forward,” James L. Herdt, the ninth master chief petty officer of the Navy, said in a virtual address.
Herdt said subsequent MCPONs have all “felt MCPON Black’s hand on our shoulder” in their roles.
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., also joined the ceremony remotely.
“Master Chief Black went above and beyond to serve our nation and this is a well-deserved honor,” Scott said.
The USS Delbert Black, which is configured as an Arleigh Burke-class, Flight IIA destroyer, sustained an estimated $31 million in damage after a 2019 collision, completed sea trials in March and builder’s trials in February after undergoing repairs.