Namesake watches ship's christening in Maine
BATH, Maine (AP) Wayne E. Meyer, the retired rear admiral known as the ''father of Aegis,'' looked on with pride as his wife christened an Aegis destroyer bearing his name with a bottle of champagne Saturday at Bath Iron Works.
Streamers shot into the air as Anna Mae Meyer, doused with champagne, held aloft the broken bottle to the applause of more than 1,500 spectators watching in the shadow of the warship.
It was a special moment for Meyer, who has come to Bath several times during the ship's construction to see the ship and meet the crew and shipbuilders.
The event marked only the third time since the first Aegis destroyer was launched in 1985 that the ship's namesake was present for the christening at the shipyard. The other two men for whom the ships were named Arleigh Burke and Paul Nitze have since passed away.
''You can do whatever you want to with this ship, but remember I'm still alive,'' Meyer, 82, said in light-hearted advice for the ship's commander.
During his Navy career, Meyer helped to lead the Navy's electronics advancements from tubes to transistors and gets credit for overseeing the Aegis weapon system, which was first placed in cruisers, and then in Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, the first of which was built at Bath.
The Aegis system uses powerful computers and a phased-array radar to track more than 100 targets, and launch missiles to destroy them. The destroyers, which cost about $1.1 billion, can withstand chemical attacks while simultaneously waging war with enemy airplanes, warships and submarines.
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union may have had more scientists, but the U.S. had better engineers, Meyer said. ''We out-engineered them,'' he said. ''That's what we did.''
The Meyer represents the 58th destroyer in the class and the 31st built at Bath Iron Works.
''She's a thing to behold,'' he said before the ceremony.
*******protester nonsense removed by Maggie*******
Inside the shipyard, speaker after speaker heaped praise on Meyer before his wife christened the ship. ''God bless this ship and all who sail on her, and God bless the United States,'' Anna Mae Meyer said. Then she swung the bottle and a Navy band broke into ''Anchors Aweigh.''
Others attending the event included several family members, Maine's governor and all four members of the state's congressional delegation.
Also on hand were Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations; Rear Adm. William Landay III, program executive officer for ships; Cmdr. Nick Sarap Jr., the ship's commanding officer; and Sean Stackley, assistant Navy secretary for research, development and acquisition.