U.S. Navy Cmdr. Daniel Hancock, an alumnus of Westminster Schools of Augusta, recently achieved what he considers to be the greatest honor of his life.
In September, he became the first commanding officer of the USS Frank E. Petersen Jr., a guided-missile destroyer currently under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard in Mississippi.
Hancock, a member of the Class of 1997, credited Westminster for helping him develop the leadership and critical thinking skills needed to command what will become the most lethal warship ever created.
"In many ways, the ability to think critically, write well, and articulate a strong, sound viewpoint, were formed within the framework of a Westminster education and have proven consistently relevant to me personally and professionally," Hancock said. "Westminster imbued me with a standard of excellence to aim at while still encouraging and pushing my faith. I'm grateful for the opportunities it has provided me."
The future USS Frank E. Petersen Jr. weighs almost 9,300 tons, is 510 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 65.5 feet and a navigational draft of 31 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.
The ship is named in honor of Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen Jr., the first African American Marine Corps aviator and officer promoted to brigadier general. When he retired in 1988 after 38 years of service, he was by date of designation, the senior-ranking aviator in the Marine Corps and the United States Navy.
As the commissioning captain, Hancock will lead the destroyer through construction, delivery, initial crew certification and commissioning, and sail the ship to its homeport in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Hancock is a 2002 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis where he majored in Political Science. He is a 2008 graduate of Naval Postgraduate School and holds a Master of Arts degree in Security Studies, Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa, earning distinction for his thesis. In 2009, he graduated from the Defense Language Institute where he studied Modern Standard Arabic. He is recognized as a regional specialist and an Arabic linguist.
Hancock's personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (4 awards), the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medal (2 awards), and various unit commendations.
"The rigor of my academic foundation at Westminster has served me well in Annapolis and throughout my naval career," Hancock said.