PASCAGOULA, Miss., June 23, 2001 (PRIMEZONE) -- The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps will commission their newest large-deck amphibious assault ship on Saturday, June 30, 2001, at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. USS IWO JIMA (LHD 7) departed its building yard, Ingalls Shipbuilding, a Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) company, here today, sailing into Pensacola for precommissioning activities.

Gen. Michael J. Williams, USMC, assistant commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, will deliver the principal commissioning address. Secretary of the Navy Gordon England will place the new ship in commission.

Mrs. Zandra M. Krulak, wife of Gen. Charles C. Krulak, USMC (retired), former USMC commandant, serves as ship's sponsor for LHD 7, and christened the ship at Ingalls in March 2000.

Other commissioning participants will include U.S. Representative Joe Scarborough of Florida's first congressional district; Vice Adm. Alfred G. Harms Jr., USN, chief of Naval Education and Training; John Fogg, mayor of Pensacola; Rear Adm. John B. Foley III, USN, commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet; Rear Adm. Dennis G. Morral, USN, program executive officer, Expeditionary Warfare; and Jerry St. Pe, chief operating officer, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems.

The 40,500-ton LHD 7, second in size only to the Navy's aircraft carriers, is designed to lay off a troubled area of the world and insert its 2,000-member Marine Expeditionary Unit ashore by helicopters and 40 m.p.h. hover craft. As the centerpiece of an amphibious ready group, an LHD is fully capable of amphibious assault, advance force and special purpose operations, as well as noncombatant evacuation and other humanitarian missions.

As the seventh LHD to be completed by Ingalls, LHD 7 reports for U.S. Atlantic Fleet duty and will be homeported in Norfolk, Va., as an element of Amphibious Group TWO.

Capt. John T. Nawrocki, USN, a native of Ambridge, Pa., and a 1975 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, is USS IWO JIMA's commissioning commanding officer.

LHD 7 becomes the second U.S. Navy warship named to honor the enduring legacy of those who fought and dedicated their lives to the U.S. in the February 1945 Battle of Iwo Jima. The first ship named for the battle, LPH 2, was the lead ship of the LPH class of amphibious assault ships, built in the 1960's as the first "keel-up" amphibious assault ship, and decommissioned in January 1993.

The LHD Class is the sixth amphibious assault ship program in which Ingalls Shipbuilding has been involved since the early 1950's. Most recently, prior to Ingalls' work in the LHD program, the five ships of the TARAWA (LHA 1) Class were delivered to the Navy by Ingalls between 1976 and 1980.

LHD 7 is 844 feet long, with a 106-foot beam. Two steam propulsion plants, developing a combined 70,000 horsepower, will drive the 40,500-ton ship to speeds in excess of 20 knots.

Northrop Grumman's Ship Systems, headquartered in Pascagoula, Miss., includes Ingalls and the Ship Systems Full Service Center, both located in Pascagoula, as well as Litton Avondale Industries, located in New Orleans, La. Ship Systems, 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 U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and international navies, and for commercial vessels of all types. Ship Systems has a firm business backlog exceeding $5.6 billion, in a variety of naval and commercial shipbuilding programs.

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