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WAVY’s Navy Ship Salute is a feature on WAVY News 10 Today. Each month, in partnership with the U.S. Navy, WAVY-TV 10 will profile a different ship based at the world’s largest Navy base: Naval Station Norfolk. The series aims to better introduce our viewers to some of the largest floating taxpayer assets there are, as well as life aboard a U.S. Navy ship.
NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The USS Gonzalez is a Arleigh Burke-class destroyer serving as part of Naval Surface Force Atlantic.
Built at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, she was first commissioned in 1995. She is named in honor of Marine Sgt. Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez, a Medal of Honor recipient who was killed during the Vietnam War.
Gonzalez, who was 21 at the time of his death, hails from Edinburg, Texas. The Texas flag is the ships battle flag and is also featured in several spots bellow deck.
USS Gonzalez is 505 feet long and has roughly 250 sailors with her on deployment.
As the ship prepares to go underway again next month, Capt. Kate Stegner, commanding officer of the USS Gonzalez, said the crew is working towards all their required certifications.
“From different warfare areas, from damage control, which is making sure we can fight the ship in a fire or flood or toxic gas or anything like that, as well as, we can shoot down missiles,” Stegner said.
Destroyers have been quite busy in the Middle East using those capabilities as of late against Houthi rebels in the Red Sea.
Often times, those incoming threats can be combatted by what’s known as CWIS, or close-in weapon systems.
The Gonzalez has two — one facing the bow and other facing the stern.
“Shoots 4,500 rounds per minute in air engagements,” FC2 Devon Umland said. “It also has the ability for surface engagements. It’s got six barrels and it fires 20 millimeter sabot ammunition.”
But the crew also trains to go on offense.
Crews may be directed to board other ships on search and seize missions.
They use two RIBS (rigid inflatable boats) to traverse between the Gonzalez and other vessels. Each are roughly 23-feet-long and go by names “Lonestar and Outlaw.”
The ship will try to travel to Texas within the next year to visit the ships sponsor, Dolia Gonzalez, the 94-year-old mother of Alfredo Gonzalez.