Mississippi shipyard ceremony marks keel for USS Ted Stevens

March 12, 2022 GMT

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi shipyard workers, Navy sailors and the family of the late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska gathered for the keel authentication of a ship that is named for Stevens.

The ceremonial welding Wednesday marked the foundation of Ingalls Shipbuilding’s new guided-missile destroyer for the Navy, the USS Ted Stevens, WLOX-TV reported.

Stevens, an Indiana native, was a pilot during World War II. The Alaska Republican served in the Senate from 1968 to 2008. He was 86 when he died in 2010.

“In many ways, Sen. Stevens embodies the spirit of DDG-51 class ships: steadfast, strong and built to fight in order to uphold America’s ideals,” Capt. Seth Miller said.

Imprinted on the vessel are the initials of its sponsors: The late senator’s wife, Catherine Stevens, and daughters Sue Covich and Lily Stevens-Becker. They watched as Ingalls welder Henry Johnson molded the letters onto a ceremonial plate that represents the spirit of the ship.

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“It’s a marvelous moment,” Catherine Stevens said. ”It’s tremendous to see this construction and how many people worked on this and are working on it.”

The ship is about 35% complete and is expected to hit the water by the end of the year. The Ted Stevens is the 36th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer built at Ingalls.

Ingalls DDG-51 Program Manager John Fillmore described Arleigh Burke destroyers as “the backbone of the Navy.”

“From here, we go up and out,” Fillmore said. “It starts forming that shadow on the hill that we like to talk about here before we get to getting her in the water.”