Keel laying ceremony at Ingalls Shipbuilding
Ingalls Shipbuilding held a keel laying ceremony today for the USS Fort Lauderdale. This ship will be the 12th San Antonio class amphibious transport ship built by Ingalls shipbuilding. News 25’s Caroline Eaker was on hand during this special ceremony.
When the transport ship Fort Lauderdale is launched in 2019, it will depart with a piece of Mississippi, thanks to the special keel laying ceremony held at Ingalls Shipbuilding. LPD Program Manager Steve Sloan said, “It’s a huge tradition in naval history. The ship’s sponsor comes and authenticates that the keel is true and fairly laid.”
During the ceremony, the ship’s sponsor, Meredith Berger, wrote her initials on a plaque which will then be taken to the Fort Lauderdale so she can stay with the ship forever. “I got to get my initials traced into what will actually be built into the ship. My initials will travel with the ship everywhere it goes, keeping me connected even when they are far away. I am glad that I have this way to stay connected with the important services,” said Berger.
Laying the keel is a crucial step in the process, like giving the ship a backbone. Captain Brian Metcalf said, “It marks the anniversary of what is going to be a national asset. So, the shipyard is going to build a 25,000 ton ship on top of this keel plate and five years from now take delivery of this ship and those ships serve for 40 to 50 years in the Navy and they carry the American flag all around the world.”
This long held tradition marks the beginning of construction while also sealing Berger’s sponsorship of the Fort Lauderdale. “I found out that I can come back and visit and so they will certainly have a visitor in me. Hope to bring people along as well to understand exactly the important work that shipyards like Ingalls are doing to build up our fleet and make sure that I check in at every step of the way,” said Berger.