On behalf of all Ingalls Shipbuilders, welcome to the christening of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, Delbert D. Black DDG 119!
Mrs. Black; Congressman Harper; Master Chief Petty Officer Giordano; Vice Admiral Tighe; Ms. Valdez; Rear Admiral Galinis; Distinguished platform guests; My fellow shipbuilders; Ladies and gentlemen; Good morning to you all!
We have a special group of veterans here with us today that I would like to welcome once again to Ingalls. The Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport is home to 500 men and women representing all service branches. These residents have served in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam and include recipients of the Bronze Star, Silver Star, the Lone Sailor Award, and the Congressional Medal of Honor. And the average age of the residents is 82 years young. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Armed Forces Retirement Home, please stand or give us a wave so we can thank you for your service to our country.
We are equally honored to have Mrs. Ima J. Black, the wife of our ship’s namesake, here with us today serving as our ship’s sponsor. You’ll hear more about Master Chief Black shortly, but for now let me tell you how honored we are to welcome Mrs. Black into our shipyard once again.
Ima met her husband after World War II, during which she served in the Navy WAVES, rising to the rank of first class petty officer. Recently, Ima and Master Chief Black were recognized with the United States Navy Memorial’s Lone Sailor Award. This award is given to Sea Service veterans who have excelled with distinction in their respective careers during or after their service. They are the first couple to receive this award.
Ima’s amazing Navy family, and its service, is an inspiration to all. A passionate advocate for our military indeed … and I know that as our ship’s sponsor she will always be an advocate for this ship and her crew!
Delbert D. Black, the ship, is the 32nd Arleigh Burke-class Aegis guided missile destroyer built at Ingalls…and we have three more under construction. It is the first ship built to honor the man appointed in 1967 as the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, the senior enlisted member of the Navy and advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Black enlisted in the Navy in March of 1941, and was aboard the USS Maryland during the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of that year. Over the years, he served in three wars and nearly a dozen ships spending twenty-one of his thirty years in the Navy at sea.
Ingalls ships are built for men and women like Master Chief Black with one goal in mind: to protect the brave Americans who protect our freedom. Working closely with our Navy partner, we continue to improve on each ship we build. And Delbert D. Black will be no exception.
Today, alongside our Navy partners, the leadership of the great state of Mississippi, of Jackson County and of the City of Pascagoula, we are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in modernizing our facilities. 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 warships the world has ever known… right here in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
Our Aegis destroyer program has an outstanding team of professional shipbuilders! ... great American patriots like…
Electrical Foreman, Mike Grisham, an eight-year shipbuilder currently working on his fifth DDG. Mike has been managing a group of specialty electricians for more than seven years and states that “…the level of pride when the crew finishes something is immeasurable.
We know our work is crucial to defending our nation. When we stamp something with the name of our crew, and Ingalls … we want the Navy and Coast Guard to know we’ve given them a ship that exceeds the requirements for that job.
I tell the people who work for me that there are plenty of opportunities right here to serve our nation. There’s so many opportunities for that sense of accomplishment in shipbuilding. Knowing that we’ve built a strong, survivable ship for our customer … that should fill each of us with a sense of pride.”
And like Jamie Hopkins, a Pipefitter Apprentice, who understands the importance of quality. Like Master Chief Black, her father too was enlisted in the military. Jamie says: “I am inspired to do my best work at Ingalls because I know that the U.S. Sailors who serve us will count on this ship. It has to be right, because their lives may depend on it.”
And Jeremy Hayles, a two-year Shipfitter who is driven to produce the best ships for our Nation. He says, “I know this will be a great ship, because our team is focused on quality. My aunt served in the Army in Iraq, so I understand the importance of building these ships for the Navy, and I take it personally… because I know someone’s aunt is going to serve on this ship and I don’t want to let that person down.”
These are some of our DDG shipbuilders, true patriots - driven to produce the best ships possible for our Navy customer and for our great Nation. They know that what they do today and every day truly matters for our Nation.
I would ask these shipbuilders, and all shipbuilders who have worked on DDG 119, to please stand so that we may show our appreciation for your work on this ship.
In closing, I’d like to thank you once again for joining us at this historic event. May God bless the officers and crew who will serve in this great ship. And may God Bless America. Thank you.