MAY 24, 2013 — Earlier this month, a 4,400 ton ultra unit for the future USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) was moved from the Ultra Hall to Land Level at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works shipyard. Yesterday, the massive unit was at center stage for the Zumwalt class destroyer's keel laying and authentication ceremony.
Massive ultra unit was used for keel laying ceremony
Participants included namesake Medal of Honor recipient Petty Officer Second Class Michael A. Monsoor's father and mother, George and Sally Monsoor, who served as keel authenticators. Each confirmed the keel as "truly and fairly" laid by having their initials welded into a steel plate that will be affixed to the ship's hull.
The keel effectively serves as the backbone of a ship, providing the major source of structural strength to the hull. Before the advent of modular ship construction methods, the keel was generally the first part of a ship's hull to be constructed, and laying the keel, or placing the keel in the cradle in which the ship will be built, was and still is a milestone event in a ship's construction.
Although today's advanced modular shipbuilding allows fabrication of the ship to begin months earlier, the keel laying continues to symbolically recognize the first joining of the ship's components and is the ceremonial beginning of the ship.
The ultra unit that was used for laying the keel will serve as the ship's main and auxiliary machinery rooms, ship's galley, living quarters, and work spaces.
Michael Monsoor’s parents, Sally and George Monsoor, authenticated the keel at Bath Iron Works on May 23. Sally Monsoor is the ship’s sponsor. A special steel plate containing the initials of Sally and George Monsoor was prepared for the ceremony. The two authenticated the laying of the keel by striking welding arcs onto the steel plate, assisted by David Brown, a 35-year Bath Iron Works welder
"Together with Bath Iron Works, we're very honored to have the Monsoor family with us here today to commemorate the first milestone in bringing this ship to life," said Capt. Jim Downey, DDG 1000 program manager, Program Executive Office, Ships. "This extremely capable warship is a lasting tribute to Petty Officer Monsoor's bravery and sacrifice and will symbolize his strength and dedication for generations to come."
Petty Officer Second Class Michael A. Monsoor, a U.S. Navy SEAL, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions while serving in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2006. As noted in the Medal of Honor official citation, "by his undaunted courage, fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of certain death, Petty Officer Monsoor gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
The second ship of the DDG 1000 Zumwalt-class destroyers, construction on DDG 1001 began in March 2010. Michael Monsoor is currently over 60 percent complete and scheduled to deliver in 2016.
The USS Michael Monsoor will be a multi-mission surface combatant tailored for advanced land attack and littoral dominance. The ship's mission is to provide credible, independent forward presence and deterrence and to operate as an integral part of naval, joint or combined maritime forces. The ship will be 610 feet in length, have a beam of 80.7 feet and displace approximately 15,000 tons.