SEPTEMBER 13, 2013 — The Ingalls Shipbuilding division of Huntington Ingalls Industries (NYSE:HII) has started fabrication of the U.S. Navy's next Aegis guided missile destroyer, Ralph Johnson (DDG 114).
Ship's sponsor Georgeann McRaven pressed button to start fabrication. With her (L to R): Capt. Steve Mitchell, supervisor of shipbuilding, Gulf Coast; George Nungesser, Ingalls' DDG 51 program manager; Adm. William McRaven, commander, U.S Special Operations Command; Capt. Mark Vandroff, program manager of Navy's DDG 51 Shipbuilding Program; and Bob Merchent, Ingalls' VP surface combatants and USCG programs.
The ship will be the thirtieth Arleigh Burke-class (DDG 51) destroyer built at Ingalls.
"The DDG 51 program continues to be a model of success for our company," said DDG 51 Program Manager George Nungesser. "We have talented, experienced shipbuilders working on this program, and they have provided excellent quality on Aegis destroyers since the program's inception."
The start-of-fabrication milestone signifies that 100 tons of steel have been cut for DDG 114. Ingalls uses state-of-the-art robotic cutting machines to ensure the steel is cut and fabricated to exact Navy specifications. Ralph Johnson is expected to be delivered in the first half of 2017.
Georgeann McRaven, the ship's sponsor, visited Ingalls to observe a special start-of-fabrication ceremony. She is wife of U.S. Navy Adm. William McRaven, commander, U.S. Special Operations Command.
"It was just fantastic, and I learned so much about shipbuilding," Mrs. McRaven said. "It was nice to meet so many shipbuilders. They're all so dedicated to their jobs and proud of what they do. I feel like they're serving in the military as well because they're building great ships for us."
DDG 114 is named to honor U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Ralph Henry Johnson, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions that saved others during the Vietnam War. Johnson shouted a warning to his fellow Marines and hurled himself on an explosive device, saving the life of one Marine and preventing the enemy from penetrating his sector of the patrol's perimeter. He died instantly. The Charleston, S.C., native had only been in Vietnam for two months and a few days when he was killed, at the age of 20.
On April 20, 1970, President Richard M. Nixon posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest recognition and honor a member of the United States military can receive. On Sept. 5, 1991, 23 years after his heroic act, the Veterans Hospital in Charleston was renamed the Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Hospital.
Ingalls is also building the destroyer John Finn (DDG 113). Construction began last September, and its keel laying is set for Nov. 4. John Finn is expected to be delivered to the Navy in the later part of 2016.
On June 3, Ingalls was awarded a $3.3 billion multi-year construction contract to build five more DDG 51 destroyers, ensuring Ingalls will build DDGs for the next decade. Upon delivery of the FY17 DDG, Ingalls will have built 35 of the ships.
To date, Ingalls has delivered 28 DDG 51 ships to the U.S. Navy.
The DDG 51 is a highly capable, multi-mission ship can conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection.