Future USS Thomas Hudner Completes Trials

Medal of Honor recipient retired Capt. Thomas Hudner salutes while taps is played during the Centennial of Naval Aviation wreath laying ceremony held at the United States Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., Dec. 1, 2011. (U.S. Navy photo/Mikelle D. Smith)
Medal of Honor recipient retired Capt. Thomas Hudner salutes while taps is played during the Centennial of Naval Aviation wreath laying ceremony held at the United States Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., Dec. 1, 2011. (U.S. Navy photo/Mikelle D. Smith)

BATH, Maine -- The future USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116) successfully completed four days of builder's trials and returned Saturday afternoon to Bath Iron Works.

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer docked at the Bath shipyard shortly after 1 p.m.

Builders trials consist of a series of in-port and at-sea demonstrations that allow the shipbuilder -- in this case, BIW -- and the Navy to assess the ship's systems and its readiness for delivery, Naval Sea Systems Command said in a release Tuesday.

During a search-and-destroy mission in Korea's Chosin Reservoir 70 years ago, Thomas Hudner Jr. -- who was the last surviving Korean War Medal of Honor recipient from the U.S. Navy until he died at age 93 in November 2017 -- landed his plane on a mountainside in an attempt to rescue an injured fellow pilot, Jesse L. Brown, the first African-American pilot in the Navy.

Hudner and Brown were flying what was supposed to be a three-hour search-and-destroy mission in the Chosin Reservoir that day when they were outnumbered about 10-to-1.

Initially Hudner and his squadron mates thought the pilot had been killed. Then they noticed Brown waving, but his right leg was pinned by the cockpit and the plane was smoking, so they sent a mayday signal.

Hudner crash-landed his plane within 100 yards of Brown's, and tried, in vain, to free the trapped pilot. But they couldn't put out the fire or free Brown's leg, and the weather was worsening.

For his efforts to save Brown, Hudner was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry Truman on April 13, 1951.

The destroyer will conduct acceptance trials with the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey later this spring. At that time, all systems and gears will be inspected and evaluated to ensure quality and operational readiness prior to the Navy accepting delivery, according to NAVSEA.

The Bath shipyard continues work on the future USS Daniel Inouye (DDG 118), Carl M. Levin (DDG 120) and John Basilone (DDG 122), as well as the future USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) and Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002), the final two Zumwalt-class stealth destroyers.

This article is written by Beth Brogan from Bangor Daily News, Maine and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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