On Saturday, August 19, 2006, Northrop Grumman Chairman and CEO Ronald D. Sugar spoke at the christening of the amphibious assault ship Makin Island (LHD 8) at the company’s Ship Systems facilities in Pascagoula, Miss. Dr. Sugar was introduced by Phil Teel, corporate vice president and president, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems. Below are Dr. Sugar's comments.
Christening of the Amphibious Assault Ship Makin Island (LHD 8)
Thank you, Phil, for that wonderful introduction and thank you for your leadership. Phil Teel is a case study in leadership. And thanks to all of you who join us in the christening of this magnificent ship. Thanks go to the Makin Raiders all the sailors and Marines with us today, and all of those in the future who will defend America from her decks. And thanks to our shipbuilders here with us today – Northrop Grumman employees who are proud to serve those of you who are proud to serve our nation. And, of course, a special “thank you” to Senator Trent Lott. Senator, without your commitment this ship might never have been built.
In the designing of great ships, we often find that beauty and function serve each other. Nearly two centuries ago, when such sights were common, a great, tall ship under full sail was universally thought to be among man’s most beautiful creations. Their designers were artists in every sense.
One such artist was Donald McKay, the legendary clipper ship designer. His creations began as wooden half-hull models, which he carved using just his eyes and his instincts. Only after its lines satisfied his artistic intuition was he confident that the finished ship would sail fast and true.
The ship we christen today is forty-five thousand tons of cold steel covered in gray paint. And yet she is beautiful – well proportioned, striking in presence and inspirational in her purpose. I think Donald McKay would sense the capability hidden within that beauty.
And what capability she has! The ship before us today displaces four times the tonnage of the first USS Makin Island, commissioned in 1944, and twice that of the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown. This Makin Island’s variable speed electric motors, passive cooling system, and state-of-the-art information technology make her immensely more efficient and lethal than either of those predecessors. And in the future, when equipped with V-22 Ospreys, F-35 Lightnings, and high-speed assault craft, she and the 2000 Marines aboard her will have a combat reach that the crew of the first USS Makin Island of the old days never could have imagined.
She will need every bit of that capability because, like her predecessor, this Makin Island is being christened in a time of global war. May that knowledge strengthen our resolve. May this ship, her crew and the Marines embarked aboard her prove a credit each to the other. If past is precedent, they surely will. And we know they will all be a credit to our nation, to the United States Navy, and to the United States Marine Corps.