Huntington Ingalls has started constructing a guided missile destroyer ship at its shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., with the company scheduled to hand the ship over to the Navy in fiscal year 2017.
The USS Ralph Johnson is part of the Arleigh Burke, or DDG 51, class of destroyers and the Navy currently has 13 of those ships under contract, the Naval Sea Systems Command said Thursday.
That figure includes nine ships for fiscal years 2013 through 2017 covered under contracts to HII and General Dynamics‘ Bath Iron Works subsidiary.
HII and the Navy marked the start of construction with a keel laying ceremony that recognizes the first joining together of a ship’s components.
“Start of fabrication signifies the first 100 tons of steel cut,” said Capt. Mark Vandroff, DDG 51 class program manager for the Navy’s ships program executive office.
The ship is named for Marine Private First Class Ralph Henry Johnson, who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for actions during the Vietnam War.
NAVSEA said Johnson physically protected two Marines from a grenade and died instantly March 1968.