PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) - It's a tradition in the United States Coast Guard, the keel-laying ceremony for the Coast Guard's new National Security Cutter.
"There is a piece of steel that runs from stem to stern that provides strength to the ship, and we have this ceremony to keep the tradition," said commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr.
The Hamilton, WMSL 753, is the fourth cutter built at Ingalls' Shipyard in Pascagoula and on
Wednesday, the sponsor's name was welded into a steel plaque.
"It's such an honor and privilege to be in this position. Not many have this opportunity so I'm just thrilled. I never thought this would ever happen," said the ship's sponsor, Linda Papp.
Papp's husband, Robert Papp Jr., spoke at the ceremony Wednesday. He said the keel is the strongest part of the ship and it's what the rest of the ship is built upon.
"The keel-laying or keel authentication ceremony is just a milestone in terms of bringing the ship to life and we expect the ship will be launched about a year from now.
The Hamilton, WMSL 753, is the fourth cutter built at Ingalls' shipyard in Pascagoula.
The new cutters are replacing Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters, which entered service during the 1960s.
"Alexander Hamilton is really the father of our service so a very important day today," said Linda Papp.
The ceremony was also a chance to honor those who build the ships.
"This is an opportunity for the Coast Guard to get an up close and personal view of exactly what we do every day and how hard we work," said president of Ingalls Shipbuilding, Irwin Edenzon.
"The cutters are essential to the United States Coast Guard," said Linda Papp. "Updating the fleet and getting out there to protect our nation, I mean were protecting families so to me, this is critical."
Robert Papp said now, Linda is not only representing her family, but all the families in the U.S. Coast Guard.
"I'm humbled. It's so exciting and I'm very happy," Linda said.
A fifth NSC, Joshua James, WMSL 754, is under construction.
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