Ross Perot honors long-time friend at Pascagoula shipyard - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Ross Perot honors long-time friend at Pascagoula shipyard

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) -

By Sylvia Hall – bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Navy dignitaries, shipbuilders and former prisoners of war joined former presidential candidate Ross Perot Saturday morning at Northrop Grumman's Pascagoula shipyard. They were celebrating the christening of the Navy's newest destroyer, the USS Lawrence.

The DDG 110 destroyer was christened by the wife and daughters of the ship's namesake, Admiral William Lawrence. 

"This is magnificent," said Lawrence's widow, Diane. "I never dreamed that this would happen."

Lawrence is remembered as a Naval hero and a former prisoner of war who served alongside many, including Bill Bailey.

"The camaraderie that the ex-POWs had, the members of my fighter squad had, it's one of the very, very high points of my life," said Bailey. "I thought it was a wonderful honor for the Navy to name this after Admiral Lawrence."

Ross Perot, Lawrence's lifelong friend, spoke at the ceremony.

"He was an outstanding leader. He was highly respected by everyone who knew him. He always put other people first," said Perot. "I'm just so pleased that a ship is being named in his memory, he certainly deserved it."

"The Lawrence is the 60th ship of its class, and the 28th to be built at the Pascagoula shipyard. Officials said when it hits the seas next year, it will be the most technologically advanced ship out there.

"The radar systems, the information systems, the fire control systems allow them to handle the full range of missions that our Navy sailors face today," said Mike Petters, President of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding. "They take advantage of all the technologies out there."

Starting next year, Commander Tom Williams will lead 300 sailors on board the ship.

"I'm real pleased to be here in Mississippi," said Williams.  "The shipbuilders are building the best ship in the fleet, and we're going to take it to sea and make the nation proud."

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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