PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Ingalls shipbuilding marked another milestone on Friday.
The Pascagoula shipyard hosted a keel laying ceremony for the newest National Security Cutter being built for the U.S. Coast Guard.
Work is just getting started on the hull, and the keel authentication ceremony recognizes that beginning.
"A significant milestone marking the ceremonial beginning, or the birth, of the ship," said Ingalls president, Brian Cuccias.
Standing in the shadow of another already finished cutter, the president of Ingalls shipbuilding says the NSC program has been a good one for the shipbuilders.
"You know, it's certainly recognized that the National Security Cutter is the most technologically advanced ship in the Coast Guard fleet. The Kimball, like her sister ships, will be built to the highest quality standard with outstanding quality and scheduled performance," said Cuccias.
The commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard says the National Security Cutters built at Ingalls, are already making a tremendous difference in the worldwide battle against drugs.
"We made a difference in Honduras. The crime rate went down 23 percent because it was these National Security Cutters disrupting that flow before it could come ashore. So, we can't get Kimball to the water fast enough," said Admiral Paul Zunkunft, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard.
The ship's sponsor is Kay Webber Cochran, the wife of Sen. Thad Cochran. She recognized the hard work of those who build these vessels.
"The engineers, welders, machinists, metal workers, electricians and more. Your excellent work is recognized internationally," said Cochran.
The ship's sponsor signed the keel plate, then a shipyard welder made that mark permanent.
The Kimball will be launched, later in the year.
"I could not be more proud to lead this service with the assets that we've been given to drive into the 21st century," said Adm. Zunkunft.
The National Security Cutter "Kimball" is named for Sumner Kimball. He was a director of the U.S. Life Saving Service, which was the forerunner to the United States Coast Guard.