The U.S. Navy christened the guided-missile destroyer, the future USS Paul Ignatius (DDG 117), on Saturday at Huntington Ingalls Industries Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
The future USS Paul Ignatius is named in honor of the Honorable Paul Ignatius, who served as assistant secretary of defense for installations and logistics and later as secretary of the navy between 1967 and 1969, both under President Lyndon B. Johnson. Ignatius had previously served as a commissioned lieutenant in the Navy during World War II.
The future USS Paul Ignatius will be the first ship to bear his name.
USS Paul Ignatius will be the 67th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the fifth of 14 ships currently under contract for the DDG 51 program. The 9,200 ton vessel is 509 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet, and a navigational draft of 31 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.
DDG 51 destroyers are warships that provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities. They can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, amphibious ready groups and underway replenishment groups. DDG 113 and follow-on DDGs are being built with integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) capability.
“These Arleigh Burke destroyers provide our leaders with the ability to conduct a wide range of missions,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson. “That kind of flexibility is increasingly important in the world of maritime competition. … USS Ignatius and her crew will be doing the nation’s work, providing credible options to our nation’s leaders for decades to come. They’ll be respected always, welcome news to our friends and a worst nightmare to our enemies. Our body, the ship, is tough, built with the best materials in the hands of the best shipbuilders and manned by the best crew America can produce.”
Paul Ignatius attended the ceremony, and his wife Nancy, the ship’s sponsor, officially christened the ship. Paul and Nancy Ignatius have been married nearly 70 years and have four children together.
“Two days ago, when the United States fired missiles on Syria, the two ships that fired those missiles were made right here at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula,” said Philip Gunn, Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives. “So, as you can see, between World War II and as recently as two days ago and every point in between, Ingalls shipyard has been an integral part of providing freedom. Every one of us ought to feel the weight of that, every one of us ought to be grateful for that, and every one of us ought to be proud of what takes place at Ingalls.”
Huntington Ingalls Industries is America’s largest military shipbuilding company.