Rear Adm. Rick Williams
Each ship is named for a founder of the U.S. Navy – leaders who made their mark in the Revolutionary War, especially in the case of Jones, and – in Preble’s case – in the war against Barbary pirates.
Two hundred and thirty eight years ago this month, in August of 1776, John Paul Jones was temporarily promoted to Captain and assumed command of the sloop Providence.
He sailed from the Delaware with orders to “cruise against the enemy” off the northeast coast of America, where he captured supply ships, preventing them from reaching the British.
In the next three years he raided off the coast of England, rescued American prisoners of war and defeated enemy ships in some of the most memorable battles in U.S. Navy history.
More than 150 years ago, James Fennimore Cooper said in a Jones biography:
“There can be no question that Paul Jones was a great man … all the cruises of the man indicated forethought, intrepidity, and resources. Certainly, no sea captain under the American flag, Preble excepted, has ever yet equaled him, in these particulars.”
If John Paul Jones is considered one of the fathers of the Navy, Commodore Edward Preble must be considered another of our founders.
Like Jones, Preble fought with fearless determination.
Two hundred and eleven years ago this month, in August 1803, he sailed the American frigate USS Constitution toward the Mediterranean.
Aboard Constitution and with Marines at his side, Preble led Jefferson’s Navy into Tripoli. He sailed with young men who would become captains in the War of 1812 – Stephen Decatur, James Lawrence, Isaac Hull and David Porter.
Preble defeated the Barbary pirates and established some of the foundations for the modern Navy and demonstrated our nation’s firm commitment to the rescue and return of our prisoners of war.
Between Jones and Preble, there have been ten United States ships named for these great heroes of our Navy. These namesake ships – most of them destroyers – have fought in the Mexican-American war, Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Cold War, Vietnam and in the Middle East.
It is a privilege to welcome USS John Paul Jones and USS Preble to Hawaii. I know you will bring advanced capabilities in radar and weapon systems, including Aegis ballistic missile defense and Navy Integrated Fires, and I’m grateful you’re joining our team. You’ll find a supportive family and many friends at DESRON 31 and MIDPAC. You’ll join other ships with proud namesakes and outstanding records of achievement.
Happily, many of the Sailors and families already serving here in Hawaii will be able to join shipmates aboard one of these fine warships arriving this week.
To USS Preble and USS John Paul Jones: Welcome Aboard and Aloha!