TAMPA, Fla., April 21, 2001 (PRIMEZONE) -- The U.S. Navy today commissioned the USS LASSEN (DDG 82), the newest in a series of advanced Aegis guided missile destroyers built by Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC).

USS LASSEN is the 32nd ship of 58 ARLEIGH BURKE (DDG 51) Class destroyers currently authorized by Congress, and the 14th to be built by Ingalls. Following DDG 82, Ingalls has contracts and options to produce 11 additional Aegis destroyers, with six of those ships in various stages of production.

Vice Adm. Edward J. Moore, USN, who delivered the principal address for the commissioning, called the Navy's newest surface combatant "a truly awesome addition to America's defense capability and a marvel of American industrial ingenuity." He continued, "By putting this powerful and complex vessel to sea, the United States Navy and the Ingalls team have accomplished a feat that is envied by every other seafaring nation, for this ship is a remarkable testament to the shipbuilders art."

Admiral Moore then placed the new ship in commission for Pacific Fleet duty, cheered by some 4,000 guests on hand at Channelside Pier in Tampa. "Today is a great and historic day for our Navy and for all Americans," he said. "Today, we have ample reason to be proud. Today, USS LASSEN is ready for sea and ready to protect our nation's vital interests around the world."

When USS LASSEN leaves Tampa, she will be homeported in San Diego as an element of Destroyer Squadron 23. Cmdr. Sean E. O'Connor, USN, is now in command of the 509.5-foot, 9,300-ton destroyer.

Rear Adm. William W. Cobb Jr., USN, program executive officer, Theater Surface Combatants, hailed DDG 82 as "another great example of the wonderful ships built in Mississippi at Ingalls." He added, "The Navy-industry team must continue to build these ships to the highest standards of quality and technology. You don't have to worry about this ship or her crew if they must go into harm's way. They'll know what to do."

"USS LASSEN is the 33rd Aegis ship delivered by our company over the last two decades," said Jerry St. Pe', chief operating officer, Northrop Grumman Litton Ship Systems. "Those 33 ships -- 300,000 tons of naval vessels -- were completed by our shipbuilders a combined 170 weeks ahead of schedule, more than $600 million under budget and to the highest possible quality standards. Today, as part of Northrop Grumman, we have a renewed commitment to continue our partnership to make future ships of this class every bit as good as USS LASSEN, and with the same results in terms of schedule integrity, cost performance and quality."

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. The mission of LASSEN is to conduct sustained combat operations at sea, provide 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, combat logistics ships and convoys. DDG 82 is capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously, and is equipped with the AN/SPY-1D phased array radar, the most powerful air search radar in the Navy's inventory. The ship contains myriad offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime defense needs well into the 21st century.

DDG 82 is Ingalls' second Aegis destroyer built under Flight IIA, a major upgrade program featuring the addition of aircraft hangars that will accommodate two SH-60B helicopters.

Construction of DDG 82 began at Ingalls on Sept. 8, 1997. The ship's keel was laid on Aug. 24, 1998, and she was launched on Oct. 16, 1999. DDG 82 sailed into the Gulf of Mexico for her first sea trials on Nov. 14, 2000. The ship was delivered to the Navy on Feb. 5, 2001.

In naming DDG 82, the Navy honors Cmdr. Clyde Everett Lassen, USN, (1942-1994), a native of Fort Myers, Fla., who earned the Medal of Honor for his courageous rescue of two downed aviators while in command of a search and rescue helicopter in Vietnam.

Lieutenant Lassen became the first naval aviator and fifth Navy man to be awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery in Vietnam. His list of decorations include the Air Medal (First Strike/Flight Award); Presidential Unit Citation; Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Vietnam Service Medal with four bronze stars and Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device.

Ingalls is part of Northrop Grumman Litton Ship Systems (LSS), headquartered in Pascagoula, Miss., which includes the Litton Ship Systems Full Service Center, also located in Pascagoula, and Litton Avondale Industries, New Orleans, La., and Gulfport, Miss. 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 Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and international navies, and for commercial vessels of all types. LSS has a firm business backlog exceeding $5.2 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.

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         Jim McIngvale
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