PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Paul Robert Ignatius is doing something very few people get to do. He's seeing the ship built in his honor.
"I find it quite overwhelming to see this magnificent ship here in the water, and for my family and my wife in particular to be here and share this day with me is an unforgettable moment," said Ignatius.
Many great people have ships named after them, but not all are alive when they're built.
"I've told my doctors all a long, 'You've got to keep my going so I can be on hand for the christening ceremony,' so they deserve some credit for it, too," he said.
The 96 year old served as the 59th secretary of the Navy under Lyndon Johnson's administration. His wife, Nancy Ignatius, is the ship's sponsor.
Kim Sykes has worked on many ships in her 13-year career, but getting to see the person she helped build the ship for appreciate her hard work is a first.
"It's incredible to have the namesake here actually," said Sykes. "I think it's the first time that we've got to do this out here at Ingalls and to know that we was able to be out here last October and see the keel laying and now to be here for the ceremony, it's incredible for him to be able to see this ship come to life," said Sykes.
Ingall's President Brain Cuccias says it has only happened once in his career, when they christened Bob Hope's class of ships in the early 2000s.
"It's always great to meet he person that the ship is named after, and get his unique perspective on history, and his life and his life's accomplishments...." said Cuccias.
The Aegis guided missile destroyer Paul Ignatius will be officially christened Saturday morning at 10 a.m. For the first time, Ingall's will be broadcasting the ceremony live on Facebook from its page.