Ingalls set to christen destroyer Ralph Johnson

Ingalls set to christen destroyer Ralph Johnson

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Ingalls Shipbuilding is preparing to christen another Aegis guided missile destroyer Saturday morning.

"We're always excited to build Arleigh Burke destroyers. It's defended this country in more ways than the country knows. And to be able to build a capital asset that protects our nation, protects our neighbors, is really an honor," said Ingalls Shipbuilding president, Brian Cuccias.

DDG-114 carries the name "Ralph Johnson". The ship's namesake was a courageous teenager. The story of Johnson is one of courage and valor.

At age 19, and in Vietnam for just two months, he threw himself on an explosive device to save his fellow Marines.

"It's such an honor, especially to be the sponsor of the Ralph Johnson. He was such an amazing young man, and sacrificed his life for other Marines. So, I'm just proud to be part of this," said ship's sponsor, Georgeann McRaven.

Among the hundreds of shipbuilders who helped construct Ralph Johnson are many are veterans, including Marine veteran Brandy Paige.

"It makes you have so much more pride in knowing that the ship is named after somebody that gave their life. I mean, just coming to work every day is prideful," said Paige.

"When I was in Iraq and I saw when they came in the Persian Gulf, I mean it was very exciting. I said, 'Hey, I help build those ships,'" said veteran and shipbuilder, Vincent Williams.

The 509-foot-long destroyer is a true work horse for the United States Navy, with integrated air and missile defense capabilities.

Capt. Mark Vandroff is Navy program manager for Arleigh Burke shipbuilding.

"Not only will it be able to defend our ships from threats of submarines and airplanes and cruise missiles, but also being able to defend the battle group and forces ashore from the threat of ballistic missiles from rogue nations," Vandroff said.

Ingalls has delivered 28 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to the Navy, and is currently building five more.

Ralph Johnson was from Charleston, South Carolina, and the Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Hospital in the city is also named in his honor and memory.

Copyright 2016 WLOX. All rights reserved.