PASCAGOULA, Miss., June 1, 2001 (PRIMEZONE) -- The U.S. Navy's newest Aegis guided missile destroyer, known now as hull number DDG 88, was launched today by Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding, a Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) company, and will be christened here June 9, 2001.

One of the nation's early naval heroes will be honored when the new ship will be officially christened with the name PREBLE to honor Commodore Edward Preble, (1761-1807), a pioneer in U.S. naval and merchant marine service.

Mrs. Connie Rae Clark, wife of Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Vernon E. Clark, USN, will christen the vessel at the ceremony to be held at Ingalls' facilities on the west bank of the Pascagoula River. Mrs. Clark, of Washington, D.C., will be joined by three matrons of honor: Mrs. Christine Clark, of Phoenix, Ariz.; Mrs. Elaine Johnson, of Anchorage, Alaska; and Mrs. Judy Gowan, of Tulsa, Okla.

U.S. Rep. Edward L. Schrock of Virginia will deliver the ceremony's principal address.

The public is invited to the ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m. C.D.T., one hour earlier than the usual Ingalls ceremony time. Bus transportation will be provided from the shipyard's west bank parking lots to and from the christening site. Guests are requested to be at Ingalls by 9:15 a.m. The U.S. Navy Band from New Orleans, La., will entertain guests before and during the ceremony.

Other ceremony participants will include Admiral Clark; Rear Adm. William W. Cobb Jr., program executive officer for Theater Surface Combatants; Rear Adm. David M. Stone, commander cruiser destroyer group five; Capt. Philip Johnson, USN, supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair, Pascagoula; Jerry St. PĂŠ, chief operating officer, Northrop Grumman Litton Ship Systems; and Dave Wright, president, Northrop Grumman Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding.

The Rev. Joe Spence, pastor, Bethel Assembly of God Church in Pascagoula, will deliver the ceremony's invocation. The Pascagoula High School NJROTC Color Guard will participate in the festivities as well.

PREBLE (DDG 88) is the 38th ship in the ARLEIGH BURKE (DDG 51) Class of Aegis guided missile destroyers -- the Navy's most powerful destroyer fleet. These highly capable, multimission ships can conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection, in support of the national military strategy.

DDG 88 is the 17th Aegis destroyer to be launched and christened of 25 ships under contract or option to Ingalls. The company's first 14 Aegis destroyers have been delivered to the Navy. Two additional ships now in production at Ingalls will precede DDG 88 into the fleet.

The mission of PREBLE will be to conduct sustained combat operations at sea, providing primary protection for the Navy's aircraft carriers and battle groups, as well as essential escort to Navy and U.S. Marine Corps amphibious forces and auxiliary ships, and independent operations as necessary. DDG 88 will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously. The ship contains myriad offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime defense needs well into the 21st century.

In naming DDG 88 PREBLE, the Navy for the sixth time honors Commodore Preble, who was born Aug. 15, 1761, at Falmouth, Eastern Massachusetts (now Portland, Maine). In 1779, he was appointed to the Massachusetts State Marine, becoming an officer in the 26-gun ship PROTECTOR. Becoming a British prisoner when the ship was captured in 1781, he was held for a time on the prison ship NEW JERSEY. Upon his release, Preble served on WINTHROP and led a boarding party to capture a British brig at Castine and worked it out to sea despite heavy shore fire.

Fifteen years of merchant service followed his Revolutionary War service and in April 1798 he was appointed First Lieutenant in the Navy. Commanding the Third Squadron in 1803, with CONSTITUTION as his flagship, he sailed for the Barbary Coast where he promoted a treaty with Morocco and established a blockade off Tripoli. Relieved in September 1804, Preble returned to the United States in February 1805 and became engaged in shipbuilding activities in Portland.

Northrop Grumman's Litton Ship Systems (LSS) Sector, headquartered in Pascagoula, Miss., includes Ingalls and the Litton Ship Systems Full Service Center, both located in Pascagoula, as well as Litton Avondale Industries, located in New Orleans, La. LSS, 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. LSS has a firm business backlog exceeding $5.6 billion, in a variety of naval and commercial shipbuilding programs.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $15 billion, global aerospace and 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 non-nuclear shipbuilding and systems. With 80,000 employees and operations in 44 states and 25 countries, Northrop Grumman serves U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers.

Members of the news media may receive our releases via e-mail by registering at: http://www.northgrum.com/cgi-bin/regist_form.cgi

LEARN MORE ABOUT US: Northrop Grumman news releases, product information, photos and video clips are available on the Internet at: http://www.northropgrumman.com

  CONTACT: Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding 
         Jim McIngvale
         (228) 935-3971