Tag Archives: USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125)

First Flight III Burke Just Finished trials

The future USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125), the first Flight III Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, has been quietly under construction at Ingalls since 2019, just marked the successful completion of acceptance trials

The below images from HII:

Flight III configured destroyers include the new AN/SPY-6(V)1 Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) and the Aegis Baseline 10 Combat System.

Of note, the final Ingalls-built Flight IIA ship, Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG 123), sailed away from Ingalls in April and was commissioned this month in Key West, Florida.

Key West Decommissioning, and (Commissioning)

Capping an impressive 36-year career, the third U.S. Navy ship (the first being a Civil War gunboat while the second was a WWII-era frigate) to be named after Key West, Florida is headed for imminent decommissioning and recycling.

USS Key West (SSN-722), a Flight II (VLS equipped) Los Angeles class hunter-killer, was ordered from Newport News on 13 August 1981 and commissioned just over six years later on 12 September 1987– appearing in the pages of Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising more than a year before she actually entered service.

Key West spent the beginning of her career on the East Coast but since 1996 has been a Pacific-based boat.

In 2001, she launched Tomahawks into Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom following the September 11 attack, then later did the same during Iraqi Freedom in January 2003.

Now, her career has come to a close.

A couple of weeks ago, she arrived at Kitsap 25 days after she shoved off from Naval Base Guam for the last time, switching from the control of forward-deployed SUBRON15 in preparation for decommissioning.

APRA HARBOR, Guam (Jan. 17, 2023) – The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Key West (SSN 722) departs Apra Harbor, Guam, Jan. 17. Key West is one of five submarines assigned to Commander, Submarine Squadron 15. Commander, Submarine Squadron 15 is responsible for providing training, material and personnel readiness support to multiple Los Angeles-class fast attack submarines and is located at Polaris Point, Naval Base Guam. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Eric Uhden)

NAVAL BASE GUAM (Jan. 17, 2023) – The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Key West (SSN 722) departs Naval Base Guam, Jan. 17. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Eric Uhden)

Once decommissioned, Key West will leave 24 of the 62-strong 688 class still in service, with all of the remainder being Flight II and III boats.

The current USS Key West visited her namesake city– formerly a big submarine base– in 1987, for a week-long celebration after commissioning, then again in 1992 and 1994 while on the East Coast, but hasn’t been there since. While both the Army and Navy maintain facilities on the island, there hasn’t been a ship stationed there since U.S. Naval Submarine Base Key West closed in 1974.

Submarines USS Cutlass (SS-478), Trutta (SS-421), Odax (SS-484), Tirante (SS-420), Marlin (SST-2) & Mackerel (SST-1), alongside for inspection at Key West. Note the differences in sails, showing off a bunch of different GUPPY styles alongside the two pipsqueak training boats. Wright Langley Collection. Florida Keys Public Libraries. Photo # MM00046694x

With that being said, the Conch Republic is set to greet PCU USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123), currently building at Ingalls in Pascagoula, for the new destroyer’s commissioning on 13 May before a crowd of as many as 5,000 visitors.

A photo I took last in March 2022, showing the future Flight IIA Burke USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG 123), front, and PCU USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125), rear, at Ingalls’s West Bank, fitting out. Note the differences in their masts. The Flight III upgrade as seen on Lucas is centered on the AN/SPY-6(V)1 Air and Missile Defense Radar and “incorporates upgrades to the electrical power and cooling capacity plus additional associated changes to provide greatly enhanced warfighting capability to the fleet.”

Higbee won’t be the first Burke “brought to life” at the windswept southernmost point, as USS Spruance (DDG 111) was commissioned there in October 2011.

Goula Sub Sighting (of Sorts)

Growing up in Pascagoula as a kid, although it wasn’t a traditional “submarine town” such as Pearl, New London, or Bremerton, we had a lot of submarine tie-ins. After all, the USS Drum (SS-228) museum was just a 40-minute drive over to Mobile Bay (and every kid at school had crawled through her a few times), U-166– the only German submarine sunk in the Gulf of Mexico– was lost about 50 miles to the Southwest with a Coast Guard seaplane from Biloxi often credited with taking part in her demise, CSS Hunley was crafted and tested in Mobile and the tale was often retold in every museum on the coast, and Ingalls had “submarine races” that the locals would turn out for in the 1960s and 70s when eight of the 37 Sturgeon-class attack boats were built there and would conduct trials off The Point. It was no surprise that the brand new Virginia-class boat, USS Mississippi (SSN-782), paid a visit to the Pascagoula a few years back for her commissioning ceremony in the Pascagoula River.

My great grandfather, who served in the USCG Beach Patrol in Pascagoula, had often told of finding empty cans and food wrappers with German markings on them in the sand along the Barrier Islands during the war. Probably a dozen logical explanations for that other than U-boat beach parties, but not in the eyes of an amazed little war nerd like myself.

Speaking of odd events that can’t be explained…

About that UFO…

On a more personal note, I’ve always thought the infamous 1973 Pascagoula UFO incident, one of the few that involved a craft rising from the sea, was actually a Soviet mini-sub and crew visiting the harbor to take notes on the construction at Ingalls– where the whole Spruance-class of destroyers and all of the early LHAs was under construction around that time in addition to the Sturgeons.

The 1973 Pascagoula “alien” and a Soviet-era IDA 59 rebreather, about the closest the Russkis had to Draeger gear.

Pascagoula’s “swimming” UFO, left, compared to a Soviet Project 907 Triton 1M Swimmer Delivery Vehicle (SDV). Some 30 of these were operational in the Soviet Red Banner fleet in the 1970s. The two Pascagoula fishermen encountered the craft while it was directly across from the shipyard. They said after they encountered the “aliens” they were injected and temporarily paralyzed. 

Meet Pharos and Proteus

And after a long break, a submarine of sorts has recently returned to the Pascagoula River, prowling just off Ingalls off The Point in the same waters that Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker claimed they were abducted during the “submarine races” era.

HII’s Pharos prototype platform being towed behind a small craft in the Pascagoula River while recovering HII’s Proteus LDUUV during a demonstration June 8, 2022.

Ballasted down in front of Ingalls’s West Bank, and the UUV deploying

Proteus LDUUV PCU USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125) is in the background as is the outfitting Legend-class National Security Cutter USCGC Calhoun (WMSL-759)

Via Ingalls:

PASCAGOULA, Miss., June 13, 2022 — All-domain defense and technologies partner HII (NYSE:HII) announced today the successful demonstration of capabilities enabling HII-built amphibious warships to launch, operate with and recover HII-built large-diameter unmanned underwater vehicles (LDUUV).

The research and development initiative between HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding and Mission Technologies divisions is among a portfolio of corporate-led and funded internal research and development efforts aimed at advancing mission-critical technology solutions in support of HII’s national security customers.

“HII is committed to advancing the future of distributed maritime operations and demonstrating our capability to support unmanned vehicles on amphibious ships,” said Kari Wilkinson, president of Ingalls Shipbuilding, which hosted and partnered in the demonstration. “I am very proud of our team’s initiative to strengthen the flexibility of the ships we build by anticipating the challenges and opportunities that exist for our customers.”

“This is a great example of how HII can leverage expertise across divisions to develop unique solutions for customers,” said Andy Green, president of Mission Technologies. “HII is focused on growing critical enabling technologies, like unmanned systems and AI/ML data analytics, to help further enhance the capabilities of our national security platforms.”

HII-built San Antonio-class amphibious warships have unique well decks that can be flooded to launch and recover various maritime platforms. The U.S. Navy has previously demonstrated the ability to recover spacecraft from the amphibious warship well deck.

HII’s Advanced Technology Group, comprised of employees from across the company, performed the launch and recovery demonstration with a prototype platform called Pharos and HII’s LDUUV Proteus. The demonstration took place in the Pascagoula River.

The demonstration involved having the LDUUV approach and be captured by the Pharos cradle, while Pharos was being towed behind a small craft that simulated an amphibious ship at low speed. Pharos was put in a tow position, then using a remote control, it was ballasted down in the trailing position allowing the LDUUV to navigate into Pharos. Once the unmanned vehicle was captured, Pharos was deballasted back up into a recovery and transport position. The demonstration also included ballasting down to launch the LDUUV after the capture.

Pharos is outfitted with heavy-duty wheels to allow its transport maneuverability within the well deck of an amphibious ship for stowage on the vehicle decks. Pharos can be rolled off the back of an amphibious ship while using the ship’s existing winch capabilities to extend and retract the platform from the well deck. The Pharos design is scalable and reconfigurable to fit various unmanned underwater or unmanned surface vehicles.

The Pharos design was conducted by HII, and three main partners supported the development. The University of New Orleans, in conjunction with the Navy, performed the initial model testing, and the prototype device was fabricated by Metal Shark in Louisiana.

HII is currently exploring modifications for other UUVs and participating in live demonstrations with the fleet within the next year. HII will use results from the Pharos demonstration to further mature concepts and continue to develop innovative national security solutions.

Jack Lucas, Christened

One of my regular stops every few weeks when I go back “home” to Pascagoula, besides Ed’s Drive-In, is the Old Coast Guard Station, AKA “The Point” where I chronicle the fleet being built at Ingalls, something I’ve done ever since I pedaled my AMF Gold Fever down there as a snot-nosed kid. Over the years I’ve seen Spruances, Kidds, Ticos, Burkes, Sa’ar Vs, Tarawas, Wasps, San Antonios, and the like slide down the ways. I even saw the rusty but still beautiful old Iowa come towed past the point and then ultimately sail on her own back out to sea, and her sister ship Wisconsin do the same thing three years later.

A recent trip to The Point showed USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002), the third and final Zumwalt-class destroyer, along the West Bank of the Pascagoula River to receive her armament fit, the 12th San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD-28) finishing her outfitting, and PCU USS Frank E. Petersen Jr. (DDG 121), a Flight IIA Burke, on the historic old East Bank finishing her days at the yard before she sails to be commissioned at Charleston in May.

As a youth, I was on the ground at Ingalls with my high school JROTC unit to provide the color guard for several christenings and commissionings (USS Cape St. George, Stout, Mitscher, Russell, et, al) then as a young adult helped build several of these vessels including USS Boxer, Stethem, Ramage, Benfold, and so on.

However, I always felt that there was never really a historic Mississippi connection to these vessels, until recently. Even the USS Farragut— who called Pascagoula a hometown for a while— was somehow built in Maine.

While the “invincible” Jacklyn Harold “Jack” Lucas hailed from North Carolina, the youngest Medal of Honor recipient in WWII– who saved the lives of three men on Iwo Jima just six days after his 17th birthday (and enlisted at 14!)– spent most of his adult life, including his twilight years, in South Mississippi.

I even met Mr. Lucas “Call me Jack” at an event in Hattiesburg a few years before his death. He was a total gentleman and a hell of a storyteller.

So it filled my heart with joy to find out that the future USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125), the first Flight III Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, has been quietly under construction at Ingalls since 2019.

A photo I took last month, showing the future Flight IIA Burke USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG 123), front, and PCU USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125), rear, at Ingalls’s West Bank, fitting out. Note the differences in their masts. The Flight III upgrade is centered on the AN/SPY-6(V)1 Air and Missile Defense Radar and “incorporates upgrades to the electrical power and cooling capacity plus additional associated changes to provide greatly enhanced warfighting capability to the fleet.”

Lucas was christened this weekend.


Raytheon announced last week that it has delivered the first AN/SPY-6(V)1 radar array to Huntington Ingalls for installation on the Navy’s future guided-missile destroyer USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125), the first of the Flight III Arleigh Burkes. [As a side, I met Jack in Hattiesburg several years ago, and he was an absolute gentleman.]

“SPY-6 will change how the Navy conducts surface fleet operations,” said Capt. Jason Hall, program manager for Above-Water Sensors for the US Navy’s Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems in a press release.

The first 14-foot-by-14-foot modular array was transported from Raytheon’s Radar Development Facility in Andover, Mass., to the Huntington Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., company officials said. In November 2019, Raytheon received a $97.3 million contract modification for integration and maintenance of the AN/SPY-6(V) air and missile defense radar system on Navy vessels.