Ingalls Shipbuilding branch celebrated the christening of the Arleigh Burke-course guided-missile destroyer Delbert D. Black (DDG 119) Saturday with approximately 1,200 guests in existence.
“This ship is a fitting tribute to the master chief who set the tone for each of us to follow along as authentic, competent and courageous leaders,” said Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Giordano, who served as keynote speaker. “This ship represents the honorable force possibly over any other ship in the Navy.”
The ship is named in honour of Delbert D. Black, who served as a gunner’s mate in the U.S. Navy and was aboard the battleship USS Maryland (BB 46) through the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“Delbert D. Black is the first ship built to honor the guy appointed in 1967 as the initial Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy,” said Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias. “Black enlisted in the Navy in March of 1941, and over time, he served in three wars and on nearly a dozen ships, spending 21 of his 30 in the Navy at sea. Ingalls’ boats are made for women and men such as Master Chief Black with one aim in mind: to guard the courageous Americans who protect our freedom.”
Ima J. Black, Delbert’s widow and also a World War II veteran of Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service), is the ship’s sponsor.
She and Delbert were married for 50 years before he died in 2000. She officially christened the ship by successfully breaking a bottle of champagne across its bow.
“This is a ceremony which we’ve been looking forward to for a long time,” said Black. “My message to the shipbuilders has always been, ‘Hurry up! I am running out of time’ Well, look at me. I made it! I made it! I made it! Now I am thinking of my spouse. I am wishing he had been standing here instead of me. But, I understand that his spirit is anchored at the hull of this ship. Now let us christen this ship and get her ready to join the fleet, where she goes”
Ingalls has delivered 29 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to the Navy. Additional destroyers currently under construction at Ingalls include Ralph Johnson (DDG 114), Paul Ignatius(DDG 117), Frank E. Petersen Jr.. (DDG 121) along with Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG 123).
“Defending our country hasn’t gotten much easier,” said Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss. “We are confronted in lots of ways, but we are comforted as we see this exceptional shipyard. Brian Cuccias and his team are building 10 or 11 ships now symbolizing four courses, and despite that, it is not at full capacity. Ingalls shipyard is nicely positioned to offer additional ship production to encourage a U.S. Navy force structure of 355 ships”
Ingalls Shipbuilding states that Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are highly capable, multi-mission ships which could conduct various operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection, and all in service of the United States’ military plan. DDGs are able to concurrently fighting air, surface and subsurface battles. The ship contains myriad offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime defense needs well into the 21st century.