Richard McCool Jr. keel laying ceremony

For the second time in the last month, Ingalls Shipbuilding is hosting a keel ceremony for one of their ships. The Richard McCool Jr. is the newest LPD Ship produced by Ingalls, named to honor a World War II hero.

Another step towards completion for the Richard M. McCool Jr. the newest addition to the San Antonio class of naval ships, a pivotal point in construction called the keel marks a milestone for workers at Ingalls. LPD Program Manager Steve Sloan said, “But a keel is when you take the first block at the stage where the ship is going to be built and you position it and then certify that it’s been fairly and truly laid.”

The McCool is a landing platform dock ship, better known as a LPD. “This ship is capable of full-scale military operations from a land invasion by air and by boat, to strikes, raids, rescues.”

Honoring naval tradition, the ship’s sponsors were on hand for the event, writing out their initials of the keel plate to be engraved onto the ship forever. “The sponsor infuses spirit into the ship and you want that association right from the beginning with the ship’s sponsor and we couldn’t be happier with the sponsors that we have, Shana McCool and Kate Oja.”

McCool and Oja are both granddaughters of Richard McCool Jr. whom the ship is named after. McCool received the Medal of Honor for his heroics in the Battle of Okinawa. McCool said, “We never looked at grandpa like a hero, even though he was. He was just grandpa. It’s such an awesome responsibility and we’re so excited to be attached to the ship and we can’t wait to see the rest of the process.”

Ingalls is currently the largest military shipbuilding company in the nation and workers at Ingalls take pride in knowing their work is going toward something much bigger. “To hear stories about what they’re doing, rescuing somewhere or taking part in an operation, I get goose bumps talking about it because I really am so proud of what we do here and the men and women that build these ships.”

The Richard McCool Jr. has no exact completion date set, but it’s just steps away from being fully commissioned into the U.S. military.

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