PASCAGOULA, Miss., April 08, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (NYSE:HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division christened its 31st Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, Paul Ignatius (DDG 117), with approximately 1,000 guests in attendance at today’s ceremony.

“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 (DDG 117) Christening
Ship’s Sponsor Nancy Ignatius christens DDG 117, the destroyer named for her husband, Paul Ignatius, former Secretary of the Navy. Also pictured (left to right) are Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson; Cmdr. Robby Trotter, the ship’s prospective commanding officer; Dr. Elisa Ignatius, granddaughter of Paul and Nancy Ignatius; Paul Ignatius, the ship’s namesake; Philip Gunn, Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives; and Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias. Photo by Andrew Young/HII 

DDG 117 is named in honor of Paul Ignatius, who served as the United States’ 59th Secretary of the Navy from 1967 to 1969. He made significant contributions during the administrations of presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Ignatius is a living namesake and was in attendance for today’s ceremony.

“I want to express my appreciation to the men and women of one of the world’s best—if not the best shipyard—here at Huntington Ingalls, whose ships, as their motto proudly proclaims, are built stronger than steel,” Ignatius said. “One of the great strengths of our country is the industrial might that builds ships, tanks and airplanes that ensured victory in World War II and that continue to undergird our efforts to maintain stability amid the new threats that face us.”

Nancy W. Ignatius, his wife, is the ship’s sponsor and officially christened the ship after successfully breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across its bow. Paul and Nancy Ignatius have been married nearly 70 years and have four children together. They were escorted to the platform by Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias.

“Ingalls ships are built with one goal in mind: to protect the brave men and women who protect our freedom,” Cuccias said. “Working closely with our Navy partner, we continue to improve on each ship we build. And the Paul Ignatius will be no exception. Today, we are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in modernizing our facilities alongside our partners, the leadership of the great state of Mississippi. Combine that with a hot production line and our talented and experienced shipbuilders, and we are uniquely positioned to provide our country with the highest quality, most capable destroyers in the fleet. Simply stated, Ingalls builds the finest, most capable warships the world has ever known … right here in Pascagoula, Mississippi.”

Ingalls has delivered 29 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to the U.S. Navy. Other destroyers currently under construction at Ingalls include Ralph Johnson (DDG 114), Delbert D. Black (DDG 119), Frank E. Petersen Jr. (DDG 121) and Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG 123).

“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.”

Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are highly capable, multi-mission ships that can conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection, all in support of the United States’ military strategy. DDGs are capable of simultaneously fighting air, surface and subsurface battles. The ship contains myriad offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime defense needs well into the 21st century.

About Huntington Ingalls Industries

Huntington Ingalls Industries is America’s largest military shipbuilding company and a provider of professional services to partners in government and industry. For more than a century, HII’s Newport News and Ingalls shipbuilding divisions in Virginia and Mississippi have built more ships in more ship classes than any other U.S. naval shipbuilder. HII’s Technical Solutions division provides a wide range of professional services through its Fleet Support, Integrated Missions Solutions, Nuclear & Environmental, and Oil & Gas groups. Headquartered in Newport News, Virginia, HII employs nearly 37,000 people operating both domestically and internationally. For more information, visit: