BATH — On Wednesday, U.S. Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer named a future Bath Iron Works-built destroyer, DDG 134, after Navy Hospitalman John E. Kilmer, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service during the Korean War.

The future USS John E. Kilmer, is named after a medical field technician with the Fleet Marine Force who was killed on Aug. 13, 1952, when he used his body to shield a wounded Marine from enemy fire during the attack on Bunker Hill. The 21-year-old was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on June 18, 1953.

“Hospitalman Kilmer was a hero whose efforts during the Korean War continue to inspire,” Spencer said in a statement. “His dedication to his teammates represents everything good about our integrated Naval force.”

Kilmer was born in Highland Park, Illinois, and enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1947 as an apprentice seaman in Houston. Kilmer was serving with a marine rifle company in the 1st Marine Division at the time of his death. He previously served aboard USS Repose and at multiple locations in California.

“Bath Iron Works is honored to build DDG 134 in the spirit of its namesake, an inspiring example of bravery, compassion and sacrifice,” said David Hench, a spokesman for BIW.

While the expected delivery date of the vessel is unknown, it’s one of the 11 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers under contract for delivery in the coming decade.

The future USS John E. Kilmer will be an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, a class of destroyer that, at one time, was sidelined in favor of the more advanced — and expensive — Zumwalt-class stealth destroyers.

In the early 2000s, the Navy hoped to build 32 Zumwalt-class destroyers at Bath Iron Works. As the years wore on, the number of ships ordered was slashed as cost-overruns mounted. Ultimately, the Navy ordered just three ships, and the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, which have been in service since the 1990s, were resurrected with an upgraded design.

Considered the workhorse of the Navy, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are 509 feet long and weigh in at roughly 9,300 tons. Zumwalts cost $4.6 billion each compared to about $1.8 billion for an Arleigh Burke.

According to the U.S. Navy, the future USS John E. Kilmer will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and will contain a combination of offensive and defensive weapon systems.

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