Huntington Ingalls Industries‘ Ingalls Shipbuilding division has launched the US Navy’s future Arleigh Burke-class (DDG 51) guided missile destroyer, Ralph Johnson (DDG 114).

During the launch ceremony, the destroyer was moved from the land-level facility to the drydock, which was flooded until the ship was afloat.

US Navy DDG 51 class programme manager captain Mark Vandroff said: "This is an exciting milestone and represents a significant amount of effort by our navy and industry team to get the ship to this point. We’re looking forward to completing outfitting efforts, undergoing test and trials, and delivering another highly capable asset to our fleet."

Scheduled to be christened in the spring of 2016, Ralph Johnson will be the 64th US navy Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) class destroyer, and will be the 30th ship built by the Pascagoula shipyard.

"This is an exciting milestone and represents a significant amount of effort by our navy and industry team."

Named in honour of US Marine Corps Pfc Ralph Henry Johnson, the DDG 114 will be deployed to carry out a range of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management, to sea control and power projection.

Featuring several offensive and defensive weapons to support maritime warfare, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers can fight air, surface and subsurface battles concurrently, and can allow the navy to accomplish the strategy of the US Department of Defense (DoD).

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To date, Ingalls has built and delivered 28 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, with currently four more under construction, including Ralph Johnson.

Christened in May, John Finn (DDG 113) is expected to undergo sea trials in 2016, while Paul Ignatius (DDG 117) is expected to launch in the first half of 2017.

The keel laying for Delbert D Black (DDG 119) is scheduled for in the second quarter of 2016.

Image: The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer Ralph Johnson (DDG 114). Photo: courtesy of Andrew Young/HII.