The U.S. Navy recently commissioned an Arleigh Burke guided-missile destroyer the USS Delbert D. Black (DDG 119) to honor the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the U.S. Navy. During the commissioning ceremony at Port Canaveral, FL on September 26, 2020, the Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite acknowledged the importance of this commissioning after the first Master Chief Petty Officer, Delbert D. Black: “Commissioning a ship after the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy is an honor without equal. The Navy has always been and will always be indelibly influenced by the leadership of our senior enlisted sailors epitomized by Delbert Black.”
Braithwaite added: “As MCPON, Master Chief Black fought for increased sea-pay, family support programs, expanded uniform guidance, and a host of other issues that improved the quality of life of not only junior enlisted, but all sailors and officers. By making life better for sailors, he made our Navy stronger for us all. This ship will undoubtedly continue on his great legacy of service above self.”
Upon the announcement by the Secretary of the Navy on January 13, 1967, the late Master Chief Black (see figure) was selected as the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the U.S. Navy, the highest-ranking enlisted man in the U.S. Navy. Black enlisted in the U.S. Navy in March 1941 and he worked on behalf of enlisted men and with naval officers to solve problems on enlisted guidance, leadership, and policy. He was the first Navy enlisted man to receive the Distinguished Service Medal. Black was involved with the U.S. Navy even following retirement from active duty, including as Co-Chairman on the Secretary of Navy Committee on Retired Personnel. Mrs. Ima Black, a former sailor and Delbert D. Black’s widow, will serve as the ship’s sponsor.