NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 8, 2002 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and the U.S. Navy today commemorated the keel laying for USS New Orleans (LPD 18), the second of 12 ships in the Navy's San Antonio-class of amphibious transport dock ships being built by Northrop Grumman's Ship Systems sector.
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The ship was assigned the name New Orleans in recognition of Louisiana's largest city and to honor one of the world's major ports. LPD 18 is being built at the company's Avondale Operations in New Orleans.
"We know that this ship, forged with the strength and sweat of the men and women of Avondale Operations, will represent our city gallantly as it carries out its mission," said New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, the principal speaker for the traditional Navy ceremony. "Avondale is a center of excellence for our metropolitan area, and we are proud to have you here and we are proud of the work you do because you are not just building ships, but we are simultaneously building the New Orleans metropolitan economy."
"There has been no shortage of political commitment on a national and local level to work with Northrop Grumman Ship Systems to make life better for our citizens and to help Ship Systems become a more competitive shipbuilder," said Jefferson Parish President Tim Coulon. "Not only does Northrop Grumman contribute to the national defense effort, but to the economy of our parish and region, and our economy needs to grow on a regional level."
Keel laying, the long-recognized tradition of laying down the backbone and critical strength member of a ship, marks the traditional beginning of a ship's construction. Start of construction of LPD 18 follows several months of design, engineering and material procurement, as well as initial prefabrication work.
"This new USS New Orleans, because more than any of her predecessors, really represents and embodies the future, not just of the Navy and the Marine Corps, but also the future of New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana," said U.S. Rep. David Vitter of Louisiana's 1st Congressional District. "This ship represents new processes, new technology, new design work and new engineering that will clearly serve the Navy, the Marines and the country well, but will also be the source of an exciting future for our part of the world."
Through the use of extensive automation, advanced materials and equipment and reduced crew size, these ships are being produced for the lowest possible operating and maintenance costs over their 40-year expected lifetime in the fleet.
"The nation expects great things as we continue forward to bring these great fighting ships to the force in support of our Marines and our nation," said Mitchell B. Waldman, Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy (Ships). "It is only through these great amphibious ships that Northrop Grumman Ship Systems produces that allows the Marines to do their job of being effective anywhere in the world. And as we continue to go forward in bringing this ship to life, the Navy and the Marine Corps will use these warfighting capabilities that are needed, not just in the war against terrorism, but in defense of the nation as a whole."
"LPD 18 is the namesake for what will be a magnificent new ship," said Dr. Philip A. Dur, Northrop Grumman corporate vice president and president of the company's Ship Systems sector. "It will be imbued with the personality and spirit of this great city and she's built to deliver combat-ready Marines who will deny sanctuary to international terrorists wherever they lurk and wherever they hide. Our proud shipbuilders here at Avondale are also proud New Orleanians and will take special pride as they build this fine ship."
The mission of the LPD 17-class ships is to embark, transport and land elements of a U.S. Marine landing force in an assault by helicopters, landing craft and amphibious vehicles to conduct an amphibious warfare mission. The ship will have a crew of 361 and can transport up to 700 Marines.
The LPD 17 amphibious transport dock ships are 684 feet long (208.4 meters) and 105 feet wide (31.9 meters), and will be the functional replacement for 36 Navy ships in the LPD 4-, LSD 36-, LKA 113- and LDT 1179-classes of amphibious ships.
"From this great and capable platform of USS New Orleans, the Navy and Marine Corp team will project the power of our nation around the world and carry us wherever we need to go and will be a crucial part of our sea base," said Lt. Gen. Dennis M. McCarthy, USMCR, commander, Marine Forces Reserve, New Orleans.
Three previous ships have borne the name New Orleans in honor of the "Crescent City." The first U.S. Navy ship commissioned USS New Orleans (CL-22) was a 3,769-ton cruiser that was built in 1898. It supported naval operations off the coast of Cuba in the Spanish-American War and performed convoy escort duty in World War I.
The second USS New Orleans (CA-32), a heavy cruiser commissioned in 1934, earned 17 Battle Stars in World War II after surviving the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The third USS New Orleans (LPH-11) was a 600-foot amphibious assault vessel that served during the Vietnam War and was the command ship for minesweeping operations in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm. The ship also plucked several command modules out of the sea during NASA's Apollo space program, and most recently was used for location work during the filming of the movie "Apollo 13."
As prime contractor for the LPD 17 program, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems leads a team comprised of Raytheon Electronic Systems and Intergraph Corporation.
To date, four ships have been awarded in the 12-ship program and are under construction at all three Ship Systems locations: New Orleans, and Pascagoula and Gulfport, Miss. Value of the four ships awarded to date is in excess of $2 billion. Approximately 2,500 Ship Systems employees are working on the program.
Eight additional LPD 17-class ships are planned over the next several years. The first ship in the new class, USS San Antonio (LPD 17), is 50 percent unit complete and is scheduled for delivery in the fall of 2004. USS New Orleans will be delivered in 2005.
Northrop Grumman's Ship Systems sector includes primary operations in Pascagoula and Gulfport, Miss.; New Orleans and Tallulah, La.; and in a network of fleet support offices in the U.S. and Japan. The sector, which currently employs more than 18,000 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.
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CONTACT: Ed Winter Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (504) 436-5253