NEWPORT NEWS, Va., April 12, 2008 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) hosted a keel authentication ceremony for the Virginia-class submarine New Mexico (SSN 779) at the company's Shipbuilding sector in Newport News, Va.

"The keel of a ship is its physical foundation. Yet the real foundation -- the spiritual foundation, if you will -- is laid by the men and women who take the raw material and craft it into a fighting warship," said Mike Petters, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding. "It's the shipbuilders who breathe life into the ship. With New Mexico -- these shipbuilders are men and women from Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding here at Newport News and General Dynamics Electric Boat -- two companies teamed together to provide the most quality-driven and efficient product to the Navy."

Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, a newly-formed sector of Northrop Grumman, combined the former Northrop Grumman Ship Systems and Newport News shipbuilding entities.

U.S. Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, who represents Virginia's third district, served as the keynote speaker for the ceremony.

"When this shipyard first opened, the number one priority was to build the best and most advanced ships in the world," said Scott. "Collis P. Huntington would be pleased to see the shipyard he founded over 120 years ago, not only still building ships but the best ships in the world."

Cindy Giambastiani is the ship's sponsor and served as keel authenticator for the ceremony. Giambastiani authenticated New Mexico's bow unit by chalking her initials onto a metal plate. Her initials were then welded onto the plate by Newport News welder Kim Kerins. The plate will be permanently affixed to the submarine prior to its delivery to the Navy. Giambastiani is the wife of retired Navy Admiral and former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr.

Mrs. Giambastiani recognized New Mexico's crew and shipbuilders during the ceremony. "The men and women who build America's submarines build them as if they were going to sail them -- as if their children were going to be aboard them. Because like the officers and crew who sail submarines, it takes a very defined set of skills to build them."

Other ceremony participants included U.S. Rep Robert Wittman, (R-Va.); New Mexico's Prospective Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Robert Dain; Rear Adm. William Hilarides, Program Executive Officer for Submarines; Vice Adm. John Donnelly, commander, Submarine Force; commander, Submarine Force Atlantic; and commander Allied Submarine Command; Adm. Giambastiani; and Electric Boat President John Casey. Guests included Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Electric Boat employees who are building New Mexico and their families; family and friends of the New Mexico crew; U.S. Navy personnel; and government officials.

New Mexico, the sixth ship of the Virginia class, is named for "The Land of Enchantment." It will be christened later this year, and upon delivery to the Navy in 2009, will be the most modern and sophisticated attack submarine in the world, providing undersea supremacy well into the 21st century. Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding is teamed with General Dynamics Electric Boat to build the first 10 ships of the Virginia class.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $32 billion global defense and technology company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial customers worldwide.

  CONTACT:  Jennifer Dellapenta
          Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding
          (757) 380-3558