Northrop Grumman christens the San Diego - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Northrop Grumman christens the San Diego

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) -

By Doug Walker – bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Even with the christening scheduled for Saturday, only about 77 percent of the work on the San Diego is complete.  So workers stay busy in the summer sun, crafting another naval masterpiece. 

The commander of the ship, John Haydel, explains its mission.   

"It's designed to carry Marine Corp equipment specifically anywhere the nation needs to send us, either in support of humanitarian assistance or a combat operation globally," Haydel said. 

Floyd Porche has worked on the ship for the past several months.  He and 800 others put a little bit of themselves into each vessel they build.  Seeing the LPD nearly complete and serving the United States makes Porche proud. 

"It's a great feeling," Porche said. "We know the ship is going out to sea to protect our country, so like I say, we do the best we can and build the ship as safe as possible." 

As with any shipbuilding program at the Ingalls shipyard, this LPD class is getting better with each one being built.  It's simply a way to work the kinks out, according to Northrop Grumman President Michael Petters.

"The opportunity to go and have our craftsmen do something and then move to the next ship and do it again, it creates efficiency, it gives them the opportunity to say we've got a better way to do this and that becomes part of our build plan." 

Part of the plan is to have a ship's sponsor. That role is filled by Linda Engel Winter, who admits such an honor actually chokes her up a bit.  

"It makes me feel unbelievably proud in our country," Winter said. "It's not just the people who are on this ship, it's not just the shipbuilders, it's the American people." 

The ship will be delivered to the Navy by the end of next year.

The San Diego will carry a crew about 370 sailors and also has the capability of carrying up to 800 marines into war zones. 

Not surprisingly, the ship will be homeported in its namesake city, San Diego, California.

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