Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII’s) Ingalls Shipbuilding division has ceremonially authenticated the keel on June 2, 2023 for the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Pittsburgh (LPD-31). The keel is the foundation of the ship and the authentication ceremony is the first important milestone in a ship’s life.
The ship’s sponsor, Nancy Urban, a resident of Hopewell Township, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was in attendance with her children to declare the keel «truly and fairly laid». During the ceremony, Larry Stevens, an Ingalls welder, etched the initials of the ship’s sponsor into a ceremonial plate. The metal plates will remain affixed to LPD-31 throughout its life.
«Today’s keel ceremony reaffirms our commitment that Ingalls stands ready to serve the country by building ships that will be ready to support and protect her crew», Ingalls Shipbuilding President Kari Wilkinson said. «With the keel officially laid on LPD-31, Mrs. Urban continues to be woven even more into the fabric of this ship and our shipbuilding family. We are grateful for her commitment to its crew and look forward to being with her throughout the ships’ future milestones».
Additionally, attending the ceremony and providing remarks was the Navy’s Program Executive Officer (PEO) for Ships Rear Admiral Tom Anderson.
«The keel represents the ceremonial backbone of LPD-31 and is a symbol of her foundation and her might», Anderson said. «But it is just a piece of steel without the efforts of the men and women of this extraordinary shipbuilding team. It is their collective heart, soul and talent that will ultimately turn concept into reality and bring USS Pittsburgh into being».
Ingalls has delivered 12 San Antonio-class ships to the U.D. Navy and has three more under construction, including USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD-29), USS Harrisburg (LPD-30) and USS Pittsburgh (LPD-31), which will be the second Flight II LPD. LPD-32 construction contract was awarded earlier this year.
LPD Flight II is the next generation amphibious ship to replace USS Whidbey Island (LSD-41) and USS Harpers Ferry (LSD-49) classes of dock landing ships. Amphibious transport docks are a major part of the Navy’s 21st century expeditionary force, deployed with a U.S. Marine Corps Air-Ground Task Force for amphibious and expeditionary crisis response operations that range from deterrence and joint-force enablement to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
USS Pittsburgh (LPD-31) is the fifth U.S. Navy vessel to be named after the historic city of Pittsburgh. The first ship was an ironclad gunboat and served during the American Civil War. Since then, the name Pittsburgh has been assigned to four vessels that have served the U.S. during conflict.