BATH, Maine – A 2014 White Hall High School graduate and White Hall native is serving as part of the pre-commissioning unit for the future Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116).

Petty Officer 3rd Class Darrick Morris is a damage controlman assigned to DDG 116 in Bath, Maine. As a damage controlman, Morris is responsible for shipboard firefighting and maintaining associated equipment. They also train the crew on emergency procedures.

“The job can be stressful and can be a real challenge,” Morris said. “You have to do everything right. There is no room for error. It can be real rewarding too, knowing you are a front line of defense.”

DDG 116 is currently undergoing tests and trials in preparation for delivery to the U.S. Navy from shipbuilder Bath Iron Works.

Morris has carried lessons learned from his hometown into his military service.

“I’ve always been an accepting type of person,” Morris said. “That can be helpful when working with a lot of different types of people.”

With a crew of more than 300 sailors, each crew member’s job is important to the operation of the ship. The jobs range from handling weapons to navigation, according to officials.

Morris has military ties with family members who have previously served.

“Both of my grandfathers were in the Army,” Morris said. “My great-grandfather was in the Army during World War II.”

Morris says his proudest accomplishment is being able to provide for his children while serving his country at the same time.

“Many of my family members have done it in the past,” Morris said. “I was raised with the idea that it’s an honor to serve your country.”

Close living conditions build strong fellowship among the crew, Navy officials explained. The crew is highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills.

“As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s newest ships, Morris and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs,” according to officials.

The construction of the ship is more than 98 percent complete. The ship is scheduled for commissioning in late 2018 at Boston, Mass.

“We are always exploring in the Navy,” Morris said. “It’s a great way to experience new things. Things that I never thought I would do, I do.”

Arleigh Burke class destroyers measure approximately 500 feet long and are powered by four gas turbines that allow the ship to achieve over 30 mph in open seas. Destroyers are tactical multi-mission surface combatants capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and ballistic missile defense, as well as humanitarian assistance. Fast, maneuverable, and technically advanced, destroyers provide the required warfighting expertise and operational flexibility to execute a variety of missions, according to officials.

“Thomas J. Hudner Jr., a naval aviator who retired as a captain, received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman for displaying uncommon valor during an attack on his element leader, the first African American naval aviator to fly in combat, Ensign Jesse L. Brown,” said Cmdr. Nathan W. Scherry, commanding officer, PCU Thomas Hudner. “On 07 May 2012, Secretary Mabus announced that DDG 116 will be named in Captain Hudner’s honor. Today, as the Navy’s finest 300 Sailors crew the 66th Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer, they do so with a tremendous amount of honor, pride, and sense of duty. We are extremely honored to be able to carry Captain Hudner’s values and legacy forward so that they are never forgotten. We are proud to be able to carry out our missions in defense of our country’s freedom and values, and humbled to be part of the Hudner family.”

Details: http://www.usshudnerddg116.org.

— Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tom Gagnier is with the Navy Office of Community Outreach.