A future Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer will be named after Fireman 2nd Class Telesforo De La Cruz Trinidad, its only Filipino awarded the Medal of Honor recipient who saved two shipmates during a boiler explosion over a century ago.
Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Torro announced Thursday that the U.S. Navy will name an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Telesforo Trinidad (DDG 139). The announcement comes in tandem with Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
“My first time learning about Petty Officer Trinidad’s story was as a midshipman at the Naval Academy and since being sworn in as Secretary, I have wanted to honor his heroic actions by naming a ship after him,” said Del Toro. “This ship and her future crew will be a critical piece in strengthening our maritime superiority while also emphasizing the rich culture and history of our naval heritage.”
Trinidad was born Nov. 25, 1890, in Aklan Province, Panay, Philippine Islands, according to a biography supplied by the Navy.
He served abroad on USS San Diego on Jan. 21,1915, while steaming in the Gulf of California as part of the naval patrol established to protect U.S. interests and citizens in México, according to a Navy statement. The captain of the ship decided to conduct a four-hour full speed and endurance trial to determine whether the vessel could maintain its officially rated flanked speed.
An obstructed tube of one of the ship’s boilers gave way and created a chain reaction at the end of the trial. Trinidad was forced into the fireroom in the first explosion. He realized Fireman 2nd Class R. W. Daly was inside and re-entered the room to save his life.
In his efforts to carry Daly through the No.4 fire room, an explosion in the No.3 boiler room hit Trinidad, burning him in the face. Despite his injuries, Trinidad saw Daly to safety and assisted in rescuing another shipmate from the No.3 fireroom.
The Navy awarded Trinidad the Medal of Honor and a $100 gratuity. According to a Navy statement, Trinidad survived and lived a long life. He passed away at the age of 77 on May 8, 1968, in Imus, Cavite, Republic of the Philippines.
Del Toro said, “having a ship named after such a significant figure highlights our diverse culture and that our people will always be our strategic advantage against any adversary”.
“I hope the naming of this ship is a beacon for not only Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders but for all our Sailors, Marines, and civilians who serve across the Department of the Navy. The service and sacrifice of these men and women have made our military and our nation stronger and better,” Del Toro said.
Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are “the backbone of the U.S. Navy’s surface fleet protecting America around the globe,” the Navy says. The multi-mission ship conducts a variety of operations, from peacetime presence to national security, providing a wide range of warfighting capabilities in multi-threat air, surface, and subsurface domains.