PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - The legacy of the first ever Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy will live on forever. The 32nd Arleigh Burke-class Aegis guided missile destroyer built at Ingalls Shipbuilding will be christened Saturday.
It will be named after a man who spent most of his career at sea, a place he considered one of the most enjoyable aspects of being in the Navy. Delbert D. Black was considered a sailor's sailor. He survived three wars aboard close to a dozen ships.
Climbing the ranks, Black was the first person to earn the prestigious title of Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy. For the love of his life, 96-year-old Ima Black, naming the ship after her late husband is a major honor.
"It is just overwhelming. It really is to have a ship named for my husband," said Black, who is also the ship's sponsor. "The Navy is and always will be a part of my family."
According to Ingalls, the guided missile destroyer is a multi-mission ship that is capable of a variety of operations, such as sea control, power projection, peacetime presence, and crisis management. Sailors are eager to take over the warship.
"There's an initial fitting out and sea trials process that takes place. Once we take custody of the ship, we do what's called a sail away, and then it could be about three months, where we'll transition from the shipyard here in Pascagoula to our future home port of Norfolk, VA," said Mark Gallagher, who is the Prospective Executive Officer for Delbert D. Black.
Shipbuilders started construction on Delbert D. Black back in July of 2015. The christening is the culmination of all their hard work so far.
"It's the future for our kids, our grand kids, that may one day be aboard these same ships that we are building," said Isis Davis, who is a painter at Ingalls.
"Stuff going on in this country, in this world. So, we have to get everything right on this ship to defend this country," said shipbuilder Patrick Jackson.
If someone ever asks who the ship is named after, they'll learn about a man who had many reasons for serving his country and the sailors he led.