The Navy on Saturday will christen its newest guided-missile destroyer Rafael Peralta, honoring the Kaneohe-base Marine who was killed in house-to-house fighting in Iraq in 2004.
Sgt. Peralta, who was serving was with the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment out of Kaneohe Bay, was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.
In written reports, colleagues of Peralta said they saw “Rafa” pull a grenade to his body after it had bounced into a room, saving the lives of others.
“The tremendous efforts of the highly-skilled men and women of the General Dynamics Bath Iron Works team have brought this ship from an idea to a reality,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. “Their work will ensure that the heroism, service and sacrifice of Marine Corps Sergeant Rafael Peralta will be honored and remembered by all who come in contact with DDG 115 long after this great warship is christened.”
Gen. Robert B. Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Rosa Maria Peralta, Peralta’s mother, will serve as ship’s sponsor and officially christen the ship Rafael Peralta.
The christening ceremony will be held at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, where the 9,200-ton Rafael Peralta was built.
Rafael Peralta is the third of 14 ships currently under contract for the DDG 51 program. The ship is 509 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet, and a navigational draft of 31 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.
Several attempts were made to upgrade Peralta’s Navy Cross to the Medal of Honor, but were unsuccessful.