Thank you and good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
Before I begin my remarks, there are two additional acknowledgements I’d like to make.
The Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport is home to more than 500 men and women representing all service branches.
With an average age of 82 years young, these residents have served our Nation in both war and peace and include recipients of the Bronze Star, Silver Star, and the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Armed Forces Retirement Home, please give us a wave so we can thank you for your service to our country.
On Sept. 2, 1945, the same day Japanese forces were surrendering on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay…. Vice Adm. George Murray, Commander U.S. Forces Mariana Islands, accepted the surrender of the Japanese base at Truk Lagoon, on board the first USS Portland (CA 33).
Ted Waller, was a boatswain’s mate aboard that ship and witnessed the surrender ceremony. Today is his 93rd birthday and he’s chosen to share it with us this weekend. Please welcome World War II Veteran and a member of the crew of the first ship named Portland, Ted Waller. Please stand.
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Ingalls Shipbuilding – the only shipyard in the country building four major classes of military ships simultaneously …
Portland is the 11th ship in the San Antonio class, and she is the best LPD to date. Working closely with our Navy partner, we continue to improve on each ship we build. We’re investing, along with the great state of Mississippi and the Navy 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 ships in our Navy’s fleet.
Ingalls ships are built with one goal in mind: to protect the brave men and women who protect our freedom.
So it is fitting we are christening this ship on Armed Forces Day.
The first Armed Forces Day was held in 1950 to commemorate the unification of the different service branches under one department: the Department of Defense.
President Harry S. Truman said the day marked “…The first combined demonstration by America’s defense team of its progress … toward the goal of readiness for any eventuality. It is the first parade of preparedness by the unified forces of our land, sea and air defense.”
If you had to explain the amphibious capability of the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps, I don’t think you can do it any more succinctly than that: “land, sea and air.”
Our ships have them covered. And I think it’s safe to say President Truman would be quite impressed with Portland. He would be impressed by the crew that will sail on her. And, he would certainly be impressed by the Ingalls shipbuilders building her.
Let me take a few minutes to talk about some of those Ingalls shipbuilders.
Alan Renn grew up on the Gulf Coast, and he joined the Navy when he was 19 years old. He wanted to be a Seabee but was assigned to the surface fleet, where he worked on auxiliary systems. He served a total of six years and deployed on two Spruance-class destroyers—USS O’Bannon (DDG 987) and USS John Rodgers (DDG 983)—both built right here at Ingalls in the 1970s.
Alan moved home a year ago and he joined the Ingalls family. With the exception of three weeks on John P. Murtha (LPD 26), he has spent all of that time as a pipe insulator on Portland. Even though these LPDs are a lot bigger than the destroyers he served on, he said his Navy experience really helps him find his way around the ships.
And more importantly, the military taught him discipline and how to deal with people.
He told us he feels a deep sense of responsibility building these ships.
He said, “When you’re out in the middle of the ocean, it’s got to be the best-built machine—even in routine operations.”
This is the first christening ceremony Alan has attended. We hope it’s the first of many.
Alan, would you please stand to be recognized?
We are fortunate to have many families of shipbuilders at Ingalls. And the Jones family is one of them.
Jenni Jones has been a shipbuilder for 12 years. She is part of the Operations project management team focused on supporting the LPD program, including Portland and the John P. Murtha (LPD 26) that you see behind Portland.
Her husband, Jeffrey, a 10 year shipbuilder, is a fiber-optic technician on the LPD Program. He conducted many of the tests on LPD 26 prior to Acceptance Trials, and has tested many of the fiber-optic cables that will operate complex systems aboard the Portland.
They are also the proud parents of Jacob Jones, an outside machinist who is working on the propulsion systems of LPD ships.
Being part of a ship that will protect our troops is important for this family. In 2007, Jenni’s brother, Army Corporal Thomas Hilbert, was killed in Iraq by an enemy IED.
Jenni told us: “Being a Gold Star family, we understand the sacrifices families make, and we support our troops. They put their lives on the line every single day. So building the best ship possible is our way of supporting those brave men and women in the military."
In addition to Jenni, Jeffrey and Jacob, there is another Jones family member who is part of the ceremony today. Jenni and Jeffrey’s daughter, Jessica LeeAnn Jones, our flower girl for today’s ceremony.
Would the Jones family please stand and be recognized?
These are just some of the more than 11,000 proud Ingalls shipbuilders who are working hard every day to build the finest warships the Navy has seen.
I would ask that all the Ingalls shipbuilders please stand to be recognized.
In celebration of Armed Forces Day, I ask all of our military veterans, past and present, please stand and let us say thank you.
President Truman once said: “Carry the battle to them. Don’t let them bring it to you. Put them on the defensive and don’t ever apologize for anything.”
While the LPD 27 Portland will carry the battle to our enemies, ensuring readiness for any mission.
Portland, like all the ships we build here at Ingalls, will put them on the defensive and guarantee we never have to apologize for defending our freedoms.
May God bless all of you.
And may God Bless America.