PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula delivered the country's newest warship on Friday. The John P. Murtha is named for the longtime representative from Pennsylvania, who served in the military for more than three decades, and was the first Vietnam combat veteran elected to Congress.
"It's my distinct honor and privilege to accept this beautiful ship into service in the United States Navy," said Capt. Kevin Parker, the commanding officer of the ship.
As the crew stood ready to board the John P Murtha, the men and women who spent the past four years building this warship, were praised by the ship's commander.
"You have fully reinforced my sincere belief that the best ship builders in the world are located nowhere else but right here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast," said Capt. Parker, "You are true professionals and patriots. And this ship demonstrates that fact."
The 684 foot long ship, capable of transporting up to 800 Marines, along with their equipment and supplies, recently passed its sea trials.
"Your hard work and dedication has turned this hunk of steel and pipe and cable into LDP 26, the John Murtha behind us. I had the privilege of riding it for both its sea trials and the ship performed the way it's supposed to," said Capt. Joseph Tuite, with Supervisor of Shipbuilding.
A signing ceremony made the ownership transfer official. It was an emotional day for Richard Schenk, who's about to retire after 33 years.
"It's a very special day for the company. We're delivering our 10th LPD. And we've got two more coming down the pipeline. And I couldn't be prouder today of our shipyard partners and the product they delivered," said Schenk.
With the crew standing ready, their commander gave them encouragement.
"You've trained, you've made every preparation necessary to take ownership of this warship. I could not be more proud of each and every one of you," said Capt. Parker.
He told the crew, "The American people have entrusted us with this powerful instrument of U.S. foreign policy."
"Please accept my personal thanks on behalf of the crew, the United States Navy and a grateful nation."
The John P. Murtha is the 10th San Antonio class warship built at Ingalls. Construction is underway on the 11th and funding has already been allocated for a 12th ship.