The newest Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer will be named for a Coast Guard officer that served on the staff for the commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe during World War II.
Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, attended the reception when Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer and the U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl L. Schultz jointly announced the Navy’s newest warship will be named to honor Coast Guard Capt. Quentin Walsh. The reception was aboard USCG Cutter Eagle (WIX-327) while in port for D-Day 75th commemoration events in Cherbourg, France, June 6, 2019.
“It’s an honor to be here at the port city Capt. Walsh fought so hard for and won, while we honor his legacy with a naval warship,” said Foggo. “Seventy-five years later, the men and women supporting U.S. Naval Forces Europe continue to pursue a free and peaceful Europe, working with allies and partners to protect what Capt. Walsh worked so hard to achieve.”
Walsh served as the Coast Guard Liaison Officer on the staff of commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe. In 1944, he helped create plans to seize the strategic port of Cherbourg, which is on the northern edge of Normandy's Cotentin Peninsula, during planning for Operation Overlord. Possession of this deep-water port was vital to expedite shipment of the tons of cargo needed to supply the invading Allied armies who would storm the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
“Captain Walsh was a hero whose efforts during World War II continue to inspire,” said Spencer. “His leadership in securing the French port of Cherbourg had a profound effect on the success of the amphibious operations associated with Operation Overlord, and I am honored his legacy will live on in the future USS Quentin Walsh.”
Then-Commander Walsh's plan called for the formation of a specially trained naval reconnaissance unit to determine the condition of the port after its capture. He volunteered to lead the special mission, arriving off Utah Beach on June 9, 1944, three days after D-Day. Walsh's 53-man unit endured shelling and a storm that turned dirt roads into inches-deep paths of mud. His unit made contact with elements of the U.S. 79th Infantry Division at Cherbourg, where the Allies faced off with the Germans in fierce house-to-house fighting.
For all their efforts, the Navy credited Walsh’s team with taking about 750 German prisoners and liberating 52 captured American paratroopers. His determination and devotion to duty were instrumental in the surrender of the last inner fortress of the German Arsenal. The Navy awarded Walsh the Navy Cross for his actions, the nation's second highest medal for valor in combat.
“U.S. Naval Forces in Europe have forged a transatlantic strategic relationship with our allies that began in the days of Captain Walsh and his team,” said Foggo. “We continue to pursue the values, experiences, and vision aimed at preserving peace and the international order that he fought for during World War II.”
Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers conduct a variety of operations from peacetime presence and crisis response to sea control and power projection. The future USS Quentin Walsh will be capable of fighting air, surface, and subsurface battles simultaneously and will contain a combination of offensive and defensive weapon systems designed to support maritime warfare, including integrated air and missile defense and vertical launch capabilities.
U.S. Naval Forces Europe - Africa, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts a full range of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation missions in concert with coalition, joint, interagency, and other parties in order to advance security and stability in Europe and Africa.