PASCAGOULA, Miss., Feb. 27, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Ship Systems sector laid the keel on Halsey (DDG 97) and Mesa Verde (LPD 19) Feb. 24 and 25 respectively, during ceremonies held at the company's Ingalls Operations in Pascagoula, Miss.

Keel laying is the first of four historic ceremonial occasions in the life of a U.S. Navy warship. Participants, called "authenticators," ensure the keel of the ship is "truly and fairly laid" according to Navy regulations.

Mesa Verde (LPD 19), Feb. 25

Mesa Verde is the third ship of the LPD 17 San Antonio-class ships being built at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems and the first ship in this class to be erected at Ingalls Operations. It is named in honor of the Mesa Verde National Park in Southwestern Colorado. Mesa Verde is scheduled for delivery in late 2005.

"Wherever you go in the world, the most recognized object in the world is the flag of the United States of America," said U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis from Colorado's 3rd Congressional District. "Every one of the people serving in our military services, if they were here, would pat these shipbuilders on the back and thank them for giving them the tools they need to protect our nation."

"This is a unique class of amphibious ships that is being designed and built using state-of-the-art, innovative design tools and equally innovative management processes," said John McIntire, vice president, Tech-Marine Business, Inc., and former Navy technical director of the LPD 17 program. "It is a great credit to all of you in the shipbuilding community who broke ground in this endeavor that the Mesa Verde will be the most mission-capable, sailor-friendly and technologically advanced warship in the U.S. Navy when it enters the fleet."

"This ship, wherever it deploys, will be a piece of the United States," said Dr. Philip A. Dur, corporate vice president, Northrop Grumman, and president, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems. "It represents the will and determination of the American people to secure our interests around the world with means like these gray hulls. This ship is built to fight. The American taxpayer has paid a premium to ensure that this ship is rugged, and if the ship does withstand damage that it will survive to fight again."

Halsey (DDG 97), Feb. 24

The Aegis-guided missile destroyer DDG 97 is named in honor of Fleet Adm. William Frederick "Bull" Halsey, Jr., USN (1882-1959). Bull Halsey was a naval hero who, while in command of USS Enterprise in World War II, led Carrier Division TWO in the first attacks against Japan following Pearl Harbor. His task force launched the "Doolittle raid" against targets inside Japan.

"As we celebrate this tradition in the Navy, we also celebrate this great shipyard and what it means not only to our economy, but to the protection of our national security interests," said U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner of Alabama's 1st Congressional District, who was the principal speaker. "I'm especially pleased to pay tribute to a great American Naval hero, Bull Halsey, a man whose very life served as an example for all of those who served under him. It is only appropriate that this ceremony, in these uncertain times that we're living in, that we honor the spirit, the integrity and the very word of Adm. Halsey who said, 'Hit hard, hit fast and hit often.' It is a worthy reminder as we go forward to defend our freedom, the freedom we love and cherish, that we honor him in this very appropriate way."

"Northrop Grumman Ship Systems continues its excellent partnership with the U.S. Navy in this shipbuilding program which has been one of the most successful programs in the history of our company," said Paul Robinson, vice president, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Ingalls Operations.

Halsey is scheduled for delivery in early 2005.

Northrop Grumman's Ship Systems sector includes primary operations in Pascagoula and Gulfport, Miss.; 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 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:  Bill Glenn
          Northrop Grumman Ship Systems
          (228) 935-3971