The Aegis guided missile destroyer, Paul Ignatius (DDG 117). DDG 117 is the 31st ship in the Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) class of destroyers Ingalls is building for the U.S. Navy.
"The keel authentication is an important milestone in a ship's life and it's really a foundation upon which the ship is made," said Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias. "Paul Ignatius epitomizes the leadership and agility that has propelled our nation forward – I couldn't think of a better namesake for DDG 117. Over the coming years as we build this great ship, our shipbuilders know what we do is important. We are building great ships to defend our nation, to protect the brave men and women who will serve on this ship and come back safely home to their families."
Ingalls welder Reginald Whisenhunt welded the initials of two authenticators — the ship's namesake Paul Ignatius and 26-year shipbuilder Bill Jones, an Ingalls hull superintendent —onto a steel plate signifying the keel of DDG 117 to be "truly and fairly laid."
The plate will remain affixed to the ship throughout the ship's lifetime.
"It is a pleasure for me to be here with Huntington Ingalls officials and the men and women who are building DDG 117," said Mr. Ignatius, whose wife, Nancy Ignatius, is the ship's sponsor. "DDG 117 will become part of our country's proud destroyer tradition. Built tougher than steel by one of America's leading shipbuilders, constructed by dedicated and skilled shipyard technicians and manned eventually by the world's finest naval officers and seamen, this new ship will sail for many decades into the future."
"Every time the men and women of Ingalls craft another destroyer, they build a living, lasting remembrance of either the courage, the leadership or the intellectual contribution of the very best that the Navy and Marine Corps have to offer," said Capt. Mark Vandroff, the Navy's DDG 51 program manager.
Ingalls is building three other destroyers -- John Finn (DDG 113), which is scheduled to be delivered in 2016, Ralph Johnson (DDG 114), which will launch by the end of the year and Delbert D. Black (DDG 119), which started construction in July.
To date, Ingalls has delivered 28 DDG 51 destroyers to the U.S. Navy. .