Stand aside! I’m Coming through at 31 Knots!

WTIs aboard USS Bunker Hill

PACIFIC OCEAN (May 7, 2017) Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) steams along San Celemente Island during a Mark 45 5-inch gun fire exercise while conducting a group sail training unit exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ignacio D. Perez/Released)

How the Arleigh Burke class destroyers got their name

Arleigh Burke class destroyers are named in honor of Admiral Arleigh “31 knot” Burke. In 1991 with Admiral Burke himself present at age 90, the USS Arleigh Burke, the first ship of the class, was launched.

Burke earned his nickname, given by Admiral William F. Halsey, from the following radio message broadcast to US troop transports who were in danger of being intercepted by Japanese warships in World War Two in the New Guinea campaign.

“Stand aside! Stand aside! I’m coming through at 31 knots,”

radioed Mr. Burke, then a Captain, radioed darkened American troop transports as his squadron, named Little Beavers for a comic strip character, steamed up the slot at boiler bursting speed to attack a Japanese task force off Bougainville on the night of Nov. 1, 1943.

In a widely heralded action, the squadron covered the landing of thousands of American troops while attacking enemy vessels and aircraft. When the battle of Empress Augusta Bay ended the next day, the Japanese toil was horrendous. A cruiser and four destroyers lay on the bottom, and two cruisers and a pair of destroyers had limped away heavily damaged.

Later that month, the squadron engaged another Japanese task force off Cape St. George, New Ireland, and sank three destroyers without taking a hit. In 22 engagements from November 1943 to February 1944, the Navy said, Captain Burke’s squadron was credited with sinking one cruiser, nine destroyers, one submarine and nine smaller ships, as well as downing approximately 30 aircraft.

Burke became famous for his daring exploits as Commander of Destroyer Squadron 23 in the Pacific in 1943 and 1944. After the war he went all the way up the ladder. In 1955 he was named Chief of Naval Operations by President Eisenhower.”

[lines in quotes from Burke’s obituary in the New York Times in 1996]

The post has a tenure of two years and he served six years for a total of 3 terms. President Kennedy asked him to serve a 4th term as CNO but he felt he should retire to make way for others.

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BLACK SEA (May 14, 2017) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) and the Bulgarian navy frigate Drazki 41 maneuver during a passing exercise.  (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Sean Spratt/Released)

Sterett-Dewey Surface Action Group Deployment

no doubt Admiral Burke would raise an eyebrow at this

REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE (May 16, 2017) The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer JS Sazanami (DD 113), left, and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) are moored together at the International Maritime Defense Exhibition 2017 (IMDEX-17). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Byron C. Linder/Released)

 

800px-Admiral_Mitscher_and_Arliegh_Burke

Admiral Mitscher and his chief of staff Arleigh Burke arrive on board Enterprise after flagship Bunker Hill was badly damaged from two kamikaze attacks. The attacks set the ship’s island afire, and killed or wounded a number of Mitscher’s senior staff. Among the dead was Dr. Ray Hege, the physician Admiral Nimitz had assigned to watch over the frail health of Admiral Mitscher. (US Navy photo & caption)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published by

Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/