Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division has held the keel laying and authentication of the US Navy’s 78th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the future USS Ted Stevens (DDG 128).

During the ceremony, the initials of the ship’s sponsor Catherine Stevens were etched into a keel plate.

The event involved the assembly of the modular components of DDG 128 at land level.

The future USS Ted Stevens is named after late senator Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican US Senator from Alaska.

Ted Stevens, a Flight III destroyer, features both offensive and defensive capabilities and can conduct anti-air warfare (AAW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface warfare (ASuW) missions.

The DDG 51 Flight III upgrade is focused on the ADMR/SPY-6 (V)1 Air and Missile Defense Radar (ADMR) system, as well as electrical power and cooling capacity updates.

The upgrades and other development work of the DDG 51 class ships is being monitored by the Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships, the largest acquisition unit of the US Department of Defense (DoD).

PEO Ships DDG 51 class ship programme manager captain Seth Miller said: “The Flight III upgrade fulfils a critical need for the Navy.

“Flight III ships like the future USS Ted Stevens will serve as a deterrent to our adversaries using the ship’s increased power projection capability as a result of the upgraded AEGIS Combat System and Air and Missile Defence Radar.

“We are honoured to have the Stevens family with us today as we mark this important milestone in building the Navy’s and the nation’s next great warship.”

Meanwhile, Ingalls Shipbuilding is working on the production of the future USS Jack H Lucas (DDG 125), USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG 123), USS George M Neal (DDG 131) and USS Jeremiah Denton (DDG 129).