Huntington Ingalls Industries' Ingalls Shipbuilding division has launched the US Navy's future Arleigh Burke-class (DDG 51) guided missile destroyer, Paul Ignatius (DDG 117).

Ingalls Shipbuilding president Brian Cuccias said: “The DDG 51 programme provides our US Navy customer and our nation a series of highly advanced and capable warships.

“For 30 years, our talented shipbuilders have been building these much-needed, quality destroyers. Launching DDG 117 is an important milestone in the life of the ship, which will continue building toward fleet readiness in 2018.”

"Launching DDG 117 is an important milestone in the life of the ship."

Christened after the Secretary of the Navy from 1967 to 1969, Paul Ignatius (DDG 117) represents the 31st ship in the Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) class of destroyers that Ingalls is building for the US Navy.

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are multi-mission ships with anti-submarine, anti-air and anti-surface capabilities and can perform a variety of operations ranging from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection.

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

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Ingalls is currently constructing John Finn (DDG 113), Ralph Johnson (DDG 114), Delbert D Black (DDG 119) and Frank E Petersen Jr (DDG 121), and has delivered 28 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to the US Navy.

The company is expected to begin construction on a new destroyer, Lenah H Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG 123), next year.

Image: Paul Ignatius (DDG 117) during its launch. Photo: courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc..