Four siblings traveled from Ireland to bear witness Wednesday to a milestone in the construction of a Navy destroyer that will bear the name of their brother, an Irish-born Marine killed in Vietnam.

Lance Cpl. Patrick Gallagher survived falling on a grenade to save his comrades in July 1966 — it didn’t explode until he tossed it into a nearby river — only to be killed months later on patrol in January 1967. He was awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism.

A brother and three sisters were on hand to celebrate his legacy during a keel-laying ceremony at Navy shipbuilder Bath Iron Works.

Teresa Keegan, one of the sponsors of DDG 127 and a sister of Patrick Gallagher, the ship’s namesake, strikes welding arcs to authenticate the ship’s keel plate. She is assisted by BIW senior welder Edward Hayes. Keegan and her two sisters, also ship sponsors, traveled from Ireland to Maine for the ceremony. Contributed photo via Bath Iron Works

The sponsors authenticated the keel by striking welding arcs onto a steel plate that will be incorporated into the ship. They were assisted by Edward Hayes, a senior welder with 33 years of experience at BIW who is helping build the future USS Patrick Gallagher.

“More than 1,000 men and women have worked on this ship since we first cut steel,” said Chris Waaler, vice president of programs and planning for Bath Iron Works, who hosted the ceremony. “We will ensure this ship will be ready to nobly serve our nation, as Corporal Gallagher did for the Marine Corps in Vietnam.”

The keel-laying ceremony harkens to the days of sailing vessels when construction began with a keel upon which the ship is built. In modern times, the event on Wednesday marked the joining of the first massive hull units. Additional hull units will later be added to complete the ship.


Also present were retired Gen. Walter E. Boomer, former assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, retired Brigadier Gen. Michael I. Neil, a Navy Cross recipient and members of Gallagher’s unit in Vietnam.

Pauline Gallagher, one of the sponsors of the future USS Patrick Gallagher, which is named for her brother, speaks at a keel-laying ceremony at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works on Wednesday, March 30. Contributed photo via Bath Iron Works

The three sisters, Teresa Keegan, Rosemarie Gallagher and Pauline Gallagher, are the ship’s sponsors and will christen the warship with sparkling wine when it’s closer to completion.

In addition to the future USS Patrick Gallagher, BIW also has under construction the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers Carl M. Levin, John Basilone and Harvey C. Barnum Jr., as well as the more advanced Flight III configuration Arleigh Burke destroyers Louis H. Wilson Jr., William Charette and Quentin Walsh.


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