PASCAGOULA, Miss., Jan. 14, 2004 (PRIMEZONE) -- News media are invited to attend the christening of the Aegis-guided missile destroyer Halsey (DDG 97) on the West bank of the Pascagoula River at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Saturday, Jan. 17, at 10 a.m. CST. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour will join Navy Adm. William J. Fallon, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces command as principal speakers for the event.

Other ceremony participants will include Navy Rear Adm. Charles S. Hamilton, program executive officer for ships; Navy Capt. David Bella, supervisor of shipbuilding, conversion and repair, Gulf Coast; Dr. Philip A. Dur, president, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems and Paul Robinson, vice president, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Ingalls Operations.

The new ship, designated DDG 97, will be officially christened with the name "Halsey," to honor Fleet Adm. William Frederick "Bull" Halsey Jr. (1882-1959), a World War I and World War II Naval hero who was present when Japan formally surrendered on the deck of his ship, the USS Missouri (BB 63) on Sept. 2, 1945.

Three of Adm. Halsey's granddaughters are co-sponsors for the ship: Mrs. Anne Halsey Smith and Miss Heidi Cook Halsey, both of La Jolla, Calif.; and Mrs. Alice "Missy" Spruance Talbot, of Boca Grande, Fla.

The public is invited to the 10 a.m. christening. Bus transportation will be provided from the shipyard's west bank parking lots. Guests are requested to be at parking lots no later than 9:15 a.m.

Media planning to attend the ceremony should contact Bill Glenn, (228) 935-3971, no later than 3 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 16.