The following is the text of a news release from Huntington Ingalls Industries:
(PASCAGOULA, Miss.) (March 21) — Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Ingalls Shipbuilding division christened the company’s 10th amphibious transport dock, John P. Murtha (LPD 26), today in front of more than 1,100 guests.
House Democratic leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was the featured speaker at the ceremony. “Jack Murtha poured everything — everything he was, everything he had — into the service of our country and the lives of the American people,” she said of her colleague, who represented Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District for 36 years until his death in 2010. “To watch Chairman Murtha legislate was to see a master at work, but more indicative of his character was to watch him communicate with our men and women in uniform, whether on the battlefield or at their bedside. He knew how serious a responsibility it is to send our men and women into harm’s way, and he was unwavering in his conviction that we must honor their sacrifice not only with our words but our deeds.
“Like its namesake, the John P. Murtha will provide our servicemen and women the means to enter the battle and to make their way back home,” Pelosi continued. “Congratulations to Ingalls Shipbuilding and all of the hard-working men and women who have put their skill and determination into this ship and this special day.”
Murtha’s daughter, Donna S. Murtha, is the ship sponsor. At the culmination of the ceremony, she smashed a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow of the ship, officially christening LPD 26 as the John P. Murtha. “May God bless this ship and all who sail in her,” she said.
HII President and CEO Mike Petters also spoke at the ceremony. “Ingalls is building each ship better than the last, and the team’s performance — and the performance of the delivered LPDs — has strengthened the nation’s confidence in the LPD program,” he said. “This was most recently demonstrated by the Navy’s request and the congressional investment in the 12th San Antonio-class warship — and the Navy’s selection of this proven hull-form for its new LX(R) class of amphibious ships. Ingalls is making a difference.”
Ingalls has built and delivered nine ships in the San Antonio class of ships. LPD 27, named Portland, is scheduled to launch in 2016.
“The ship we christen today honors Congressman John P. Murtha, who proudly served his country as both a Marine and a statesman for almost 40 years,” said Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias. “I can’t imagine a more fitting namesake to represent the marvel of American technology, craftsmanship and strength that is LPD 26. Ingalls shipbuilders know that quality matters. We build our warships as though our own sons and daughters will take them into harm’s way — because they may. And because we owe our warfighters our very best. Our shipbuilders put their hearts and souls into every ship we build — as we have for generations. LPD 26 is no exception. Murtha was the most complete and lowest-cost LPD when she was launched, with many key systems finished months ahead of our historical best. So I’m extremely proud of our LPD 26 shipbuilders.”
In addition to his tenured history in the House of Representatives, Murtha was also a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and Reserves. He served a distinguished 37 years, receiving the Bronze Star with Combat “V,” two Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry for his service in the Vietnam War. He retired as a colonel in 1990.
“Deep in the hull or on scaffolding hundreds of feet in the air — in the Deep South heat — these Mississippians are welding, painting and assembling the living quarters, galley, hospital and the command centers for those who serve,” said Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. “You can see their commitment to a job well done — because they know the invaluable role they play in America’s national security."
The San Antonio class is the latest addition to the Navy’s 21st century amphibious assault force. The 684-foot-long, 105-foot-wide ships are used to embark and land Marines, their equipment and supplies ashore via air cushion or conventional landing craft and amphibious assault vehicles, augmented by helicopters or vertical takeoff and landing aircraft such as the MV-22 Osprey. The ships support a Marine Air Ground Task Force across the spectrum of operations, conducting amphibious and expeditionary missions of sea control and power projection to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions throughout the first half of the 21st century.