Thank you, George. Mrs. Neller, General Neller, Captain Moton, Major General Cooper (retired), Captain Tuite, Dr. Petersen and the Petersen family, fellow shipbuilders, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another great shipbuilding day at Ingalls.
It is always exciting to celebrate the keel authentication of another Arleigh-Burke class destroyer at our shipyard.
We are honored to have with us today the sponsor of this great ship, Mrs. D’Arcy Neller, and her husband, General Robert Neller, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.
DDG 121 is our 33rd destroyer. And to date we have delivered 29 of these ships to the U.S. Navy—from USS Barry in 1992 to our most recent, John Finn (DDG 113) in December.
The keel authentication is an important milestone in a ship’s life – as we lay the foundation upon which this great ship will be built.
DDG’s are traditionally named after great men and women in the history of our Navy. And the namesake of DDG 121 is a true trailblazer and an American hero. This ship honors Frank E. Petersen Jr., the first African-American Marine Corps aviator and the first African-American Marine Corps general.
Like her namesake, DDG 121 will be strong and capable. Our men and women in the Navy --- and General Petersen’s legacy --- deserve nothing less.
Thank you all for being here today to mark this important construction milestone in the life of Frank E. Petersen, the ship.
May God bless this ship, her namesake, those who are building her and those who will call her home. And God bless the United States of America.