BOSTON, Nov. 9, 2002 (PRIMEZONE) -- Recalling his brother's naval history, U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts today called the U.S. Navy's newest ship "the best of the past, present and future of the Navy and the country in the new fight against terrorists around the world."

Sen. Kennedy was the principal speaker for the commissioning of USS Preble (DDG 88), the newest in a series of advanced Aegis guided missile destroyers built for the Navy by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) at its Ship Systems sector in Pascagoula, Miss. More than 5,000 invited guests were in attendance when DDG 88's 300-plus officers and enlisted personnel marched to their posts on the ship, which was commissioned today at Pier Four in Boston, dockside next to the U.S. Navy's first ship, USS Constitution.

This ship is named in honor of U.S. Navy Commodore Edward Preble (1761-1807), who was appointed first lieutenant in the United States Navy in 1798.

"The American naval tradition that Edward Preble did so much to create was epitomized by courageous action, outstanding victory and the best technologies available," said Sen. Kennedy. "That same tradition is reflected proudly in the U.S. Navy today. The destroyer we commission here today is the most technologically advanced warship ever built. It reflects the best of American ingenuity and design that we can put in the water. The real strength of this ship is her crew, for technology will not sail her into history. The men and women of the crew will have that honor and that responsibility, and we can count on them to protect our freedoms."

He continued, "Today we face an uncertain world. In the 1800s, pirates were the terrorists of the sea, attacking America's commerce. Commodore Preble succeeded by developing the right strategies for our young Navy to defeat a land-based enemy. The same courage, determination, innovation and decisive leadership make our modern Navy a major asset in the war against terror. It is comforting for all Americans to know that fine crews like this one, and sophisticated warships like DDG 88, will be patrolling the world's oceans protecting us."

Ship's Sponsor Mrs. Connie Rae Clark, wife of Adm. Vernon E. Clark, USN chief of naval operations, and her sister-in-law, Matron of Honor Elaine Johnson, of Toledo, Ohio, gave the traditional order to "man our ship and bring her to life."

"Our Navy appreciates all of what the shipbuilders do to create these outstanding ships, because they really do build freedom one great ship at a time. We want to say 'thank you' for this ship because she's an awesome addition to American sea power," said Adm. Clark. He continued, "It will become part of an awesome fighting force called the United States Navy and it joins a force today whose mantra in this global war on terrorism is life, liberty and the pursuit of all who would threaten it."

DDG 88 will be homeported in San Diego, Calif., as an element of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Cmdr. Timothy A. Batzler, a native of Baltimore, Md., is now in command the 509.5-foot, 9,300-ton destroyer. "There are many similarities to the two ships behind me," Cmdr. Batzler said, referring to USS Constitution and USS Preble. "When they were both built they were the best the country could produce. Both entered service as instruments of peace and in a time when they were badly needed. Today the United States Navy is at its finest and my crew and I are eager to take our place in the best Navy the world has ever known."

USS Preble (DDG 88) is the 38th ship of the DDG 51 Aegis destroyer program and the 17th to be built by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems. The ship is the fifth of the revised Flight IIA ships built by Northrop Grumman, with hangars for two SH-60B/F helicopters and an enlarged flight deck.

"I'm especially proud to represent the 17,000 men and women of the Northrop Grumman Ship Systems team that has done its part in building this ship, and which is also now looking to the future of destroyers as we lead a team to design and develop an entirely new class of destroyers, DD(X)," said Dr. Philip A. Dur, Northrop Grumman corporate vice president and president of the company's Ship Systems sector. "Commodore Preble would be honored that his fighting legacy will live on in yet another namesake ship with a special place in the battle line for the pirates of old who have their own successors in the terrorists of today, who are within reach of this ship even when they hide 700 miles inland."

Following DDG 88, Northrop Grumman has contracts to produce 11 additional Aegis destroyers, with six of those ships in various stages of production.

"This ship and crew represent an enormous national commitment of tax dollars and human talent," said Adm. Robert J. Natter, USN, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. "This ship is not cheap, but neither is liberty, neither is freedom of the seas and neither is the fight in which we are currently engaged against terrorism. From this day forward, this magnificent ship will be recognized as a symbol and a part of the reality of American naval supremacy and I am proud to have Preble join us in the United States Fleet."

"It's our job in the Navy to make sure that we provide the greatest technology to these ships and crew so that if they do have to sail in harm's way the shipbuilding industry and the government will provide them with the finest equipment," said Rear Adm. William M. Cobb Jr., USN, program executive officer, Theater Surface Combatants.

Northrop Grumman's Ship Systems Sector includes primary operations in Pascagoula and Gulfport, Miss., and in New Orleans and Tallulah, La., as well as a network of fleet support offices in the U.S. and Japan. The sector, which currently employs more than 17,000 shipbuilding professionals, primarily in Mississippi and Louisiana, is one of the nation's leading full service systems companies for the design, engineering, construction, and life cycle support of major surface ships for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and international navies, and for commercial vessels of all types.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $17 billion, global defense company with its worldwide headquarters in Los Angeles. Northrop Grumman provides technologically advanced, innovative products, services and solutions in defense and commercial electronics, systems integration, information technology and nuclear and non-nuclear shipbuilding and systems. With nearly 96,000 employees and operations in 44 states and 25 countries, Northrop Grumman serves U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers.

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          Northrop Grumman Ship Systems
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