US Navy warship to be named after Pinoy sailor

Published May 22, 2022, 6:01 PM

by Raymund Antonio

The United States Navy announced that a future Arleigh Burke-class Destroyer will be named USS Telesforo Trinidad (DDG 139) to honor a Filipino sailor who risked his life to save two shipmates during a 1915 boiler explosion aboard USS San Diego.

Filipino sailor Telesforo Trinidad (WikiMedia Common)

Trinidad is also the only Filipino in the US Navy to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, who was a midshipman at the Naval Academy when he first learned of Trinidad’s story, made the announcement.

“Since being sworn in as Secretary, I have wanted to honor his heroic actions by naming a ship after him,” Del Toro said in a press release posted on the US Navy’s website.

“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,” he added.

Saying that he is pleased to honor the Filipino sailor’s life and legacy, Del Toro highlighted that naming a US Navy ship after “such a significant figure” shows “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,” he stated.

Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are the backbone of the US Navy’s surface fleet providing protection to America around the globe.

These ships are highly capable as they conduct a variety of operations—from peacetime presence to national security.

It also provides a wide range of war-fighting capabilities in multi-threat air, surface and subsurface domains.

Trinidad was born in Aklan Province, Panay on November 25, 1890, and enlisted in the US Navy after the United States took possession of the archipelago in the wake of the Spanish-American War.

But on January 21, 1915, when the ship’s boilers caught fire, Trinidad re-entered the fire room to save his crewmate. Even with a boiler hitting him and burning him in the face, he assisted in rescuing another crew member.

He survived the ordeal and was awarded the Medal of Honor and a $100 gratuity.

Trinidad passed away at the age of 77 in May 1968 in Imus, Cavite.