Huntington Ingalls Industries‘ (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding has successfully authenticated the keel of the US Navy’s Aegis guided missile destroyer, Paul Ignatius (DDG 117).

Paul Ignatius represents the 31st ship in the Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) class of destroyers that Ingalls is building for the US Navy.

Ingalls Shipbuilding president Brian Cuccias said: "The keel authentication is an important milestone in a ship’s life and it’s really a foundation upon which the ship is made.

"Paul Ignatius epitomises the leadership and agility that has propelled our nation forward – I couldn’t think of a better namesake for DDG 117."

The new vessel is named in honour of Ignatius, who served as Secretary of the Navy from 1967 to 1969 and was the Assistant Secretary of Defense during President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration.

"The keel authentication is an important milestone in a ship’s life and it’s really a foundation upon which the ship is made."

Currently, Ingalls is constructing three other destroyers John Finn (DDG 113), Ralph Johnson (DDG 114) and Delbert D Black (DDG 119).

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John Finn is expected to be delivered in 2016, while Ralph Johnson is scheduled to be launched by the end of the year.

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyers provide anti-submarine, anti-air and anti-surface capabilities for the nav.

Equipped with a number of modern offensive and defensive weapons, the DDGs are capable of supporting carrier battle, surface action, amphibious and replenishment groups.

In addition, the vessels will be able to carry out a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection.

Ingalls has delivered 28 DDG 51 destroyers so far to the US Navy.