PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Paul Ignatius has a long history within the Navy.
"I served as a naval officer for 4 years during World War II, and I served in the Pentagon for two years under President Kennedy and then under Lyndon Johnson," Ignatius said.
And those aren't the only hats Ignatius has worn.
"I was assistant of Secretary of Defense among other jobs and Secretary of the Navy for two years," Ignatius said.
Ignatius and his wife Nancy joined Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula to authenticate the keel of a DDG 117 ship. Nancy is the ship's sponsor, but what makes this ceremony unusual -- is that Ignatius is still alive to witness it.
"The Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, former governor of Mississippi, invited me to lunch at the Pentagon and right at the end of the lunch said 'by the way I'm going to name a ship after you', and I couldn't have been more surprised and honored."
This is Ingalls Shipbuilding's 31st guided missile destroyer and the company's leaders said they're ecstatic to have the namesake present for the authentication.
"It's great to have the namesake here. Particularly one who's such a great guy and so much history and to give tribute to his service and also tribute to the ship," Ingalls Shipbuilding president Brian Cuccias said.
Authenticating the keel is the first major event in a ships lifetime, and the keel is the backbone of the ship.
"The whole ship is built around the keel, without the keel, you don't have a ship," Cuccias said.
The ship will take several years to construct. It's next major milestone is the launching.