PASCAGOULA, Miss., Jan. 17, 2005 (PRIMEZONE) -- In a traditional naval ceremony blended with Native American traditions and symbolism, the amphibious transport dock ship LPD 19 was christened Mesa Verde here today in front of more than 1,000 guests. LPD 19 is the third San Antonio (LPD 17)-class ship being built by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) for the U.S. Navy/Marine Corps team.
"Christening this ship symbolizes our hopes and our dreams for the capabilities of our Navy's future," said Dionel Aviles, undersecretary of the Navy, the ceremony's principal speaker. "To the Northrop Grumman team -- you are building the most advanced expeditionary assault ships ever to sail the seas. There is a deep-rooted passion for shipbuilding in this region, and the skilled hands and the patriotic hearts of generations of ship-crafters in this area have been making our Navy the best in the world since 1938.
"Mesa Verde, like the ships that she will join, will be ready to take American sovereignty to the far corners of the earth," he continued. "Mesa Verde's sailors and Marines will represent our nation, whether conducting humanitarian operations or prosecuting the global war on terrorism."
The name Mesa Verde honors Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado. The park was established in 1906 to preserve sites built by Native Americans on mesa tops and in canyon alcoves. Peter Pino, Zia Pueblo tribal administrator, offered a traditional Pueblo prayer and blessed the ship with sacred waters carried from Mesa Verde. Ship's sponsor Linda Campbell, wife of U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (Ret.) of Colorado, followed the blessing by officially christening the ship Mesa Verde, exclaiming, "Bless this ship and all who sail in her."
"This ship will in fact bring sea basing to reality," said Lt. Gen. Pete Osman, Marine Corps deputy commandant, "and allow us to project power ashore like we've not seen before -- a powerful punch deep into the heart of an enemy. This ship will become an integral part of our expeditionary strike groups ... but most importantly, this ship allows us to project ashore the most important weapon we have -- the 800 marines that it is able to embark."
Navy Cmdr. Shawn Lobree, a native of Miami, is Mesa Verde's prospective commanding officer. The ship is scheduled for commissioning in 2006 and will be homeported in Norfolk, Va.
"These ships will be an integral component of Sea Power 21 -- the concepts and doctrine that describe how the Navy-Marine Corps team will operate as an integrated force," said Philip A. Dur, president, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems. "A major tenet in Sea Power 21, sea basing, calls for uniting joint forces with the ability to project and sustain power while maintaining a forcible entry capability from the sea. And when Mesa Verde takes to the seas alongside her sister ships, it is for one purpose, and one purpose only -- to preserve American freedom, be it in peace or war, or times of great destruction and fear."
Displacing nearly 25,000 tons, the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ships will be the second-largest ships in the Navy's 21st-Century Expeditionary Strike Groups. Mesa Verde will have a crew of 360 sailors and 3 Marines and can carry up to 699 troops with a surge capability of up to 800.
These ships are 684 feet (208.5 meters) long and 105 feet (31.9 meters) wide and will replace the functions of four classes of older amphibious ships. This new class of ship affords the Navy's Expeditionary Strike Group with the technology and flexibility to launch and recover amphibious landing craft such as the Landing Craft, Air Cushion, operate an array of rotary-wing aircraft, as well as the ability to carry and launch the Marine Corp's Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.
Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems is the ship systems integrator for the LPD 17 ship class, with prime responsibility for the design and integration of the innovative shipboard wide area network, the backbone of the LPD capability. Raytheon draws upon its experience and proven expertise to integrate all government and contractor furnished equipment, providing exceptional capabilities to the joint expeditionary forces who will serve onboard.
Northrop Grumman Ship Systems includes primary operations in Pascagoula and Gulfport, Miss.; and in New Orleans and Tallulah, La., as well as in a network of fleet support offices in the U.S. and Japan. Ship Systems 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.
CONTACT: Bill Glenn Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (228) 935-3972 William.Glenn@ngc.com