Named after the most-decorated enlisted man in Navy history, the USS JAMES E. WILLIAMS is the 17th Flight IIA ARLEIGH BURKE - class guided missile destroyer and the first ship in the Navy to bear the name.
|General Characteristics:||Awarded: March 6, 1998|
|Keel laid: July 15, 2002|
|Launched: June 25, 2003|
|Commissioned: December 11, 2004|
|Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding, West Bank, Pascagoula, Miss.|
|Propulsion system: four General Electric LM 2500 gas turbine engines|
|Length: 508,5 feet (155 meters)|
|Beam: 67 feet (20.4 meters)|
|Draft: 30,5 feet (9.3 meters)|
|Displacement: approx. 9,200 tons full load|
|Speed: 32 knots|
|Aircraft: two SH-60 (LAMPS 3) helicopters|
|Armament: one Mk-45 5"/62 caliber lightweight gun, two Mk-41 VLS for Standard missiles and Tomahawk ASM/LAM, one 20mm Phalanx CIWS, two Mk-32 triple torpedo tubes for Mk-50 and Mk-46 torpedoes, two Mk 38 Mod 2 25mm machine gun systems|
|Homeport: Norfolk, VA|
|Crew: approx. 320|
This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard USS JAMES E. WILLIAMS. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.
About the Ship’s Name:
Born in Fort Mill, SC, in 1930, and raised in Darlington County, SC, Boatswain’s Mate First Class James Elliot Williams was the most-decorated enlisted man in Navy history. Williams received the Medal of Honor for his service on the Mekong River in Vietnam on Oct. 31, 1966, while serving as boat captain and patrol officer aboard River Patrol Boat (PBR) 105. His boat and another PBR were searching for contraband when crewmembers spotted two speedboats crossing ahead. The speed-boats split up, with Williams pursuing and sinking one. He then turned his boat and went after the second, which hid in an eight foot-wide canal in front of a rice paddy.
Williams knew his boat wouldn't fit in the canal, but after checking a map, he realized he could pass through a wider canal and intercept the enemy craft. However, after exiting that canal, Williams found himself and his crew in a hostile staging area where they came under heavy fire from boats and ashore. Williams and his crew waged battle against multiple enemy boats.
U.S. helicopter support eventually arrived, and PBR 105 moved to another enemy boat staging area. After a fierce battle and more than three hours of fighting, Williams' patrol had accounted for the destruction or loss of 65 enemy boats and more than 1,000 enemy troops.
Williams retired from the Navy in 1967 and returned to South Carolina where he found another way to serve his country. In 1969, he was appointed U.S. Marshal for the District of South Carolina. Although his exploits in Vietnam were legendary, he was quick to admonish anyone who wanted to talk about his awards.
"You gotta stop and think about your shipmates," he said in an interview with the Navy's All Hands Magazine in 1998. "That's what makes you a great person and a great leader - taking care of each other."
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Williams' many awards include the Navy Cross, Silver Star, Navy and Marine Corps Medal, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and the Navy Commendation Medal with combat distinguishing device.
Boatswain’s Mate First Class James Elliot Williams passed away in 1999.
USS JAMES E. WILLIAMS Image Gallery:
The photos below were taken by me and show the USS JAMES E. WILLIAMS at Naval Base Norfolk, Va., on November 9, 2008.
The photos below were taken by me and show the USS JAMES E. WILLIAMS passing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on her way to Naval Base Norfolk, Va., on October 29, 2010. The last photo shows the ship a few hours later at the Naval Base.