BATH, Maine (NNS) -- The keel laying and authentication ceremony for the future Zumwalt-class Destroyer USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) was held at the General Dynamics-Bath Iron Works shipyard, May 23.
The keel authenticators were George and Sally Monsoor, parents of the ship's namesake Medal of Honor recipient Petty Officer Second Class Michael A. Monsoor. They confirmed that the keel is "truly and fairly" laid by having their initials welded into a steel plate that will be affixed to the ship's hull.
The keel is the backbone of a ship, providing the basis of structural strength to the hull. Before modular ship construction methods, the keel was generally the first part of a ship's hull to be constructed. Laying the keel, or placing the keel in the cradle in which the ship will be built, was and still is a milestone event in a ship's construction.
Today, contemporary modular shipbuilding allows the fabrication of the ship to begin months earlier. The keel laying continues to be symbolically recognized as the first joining of the ship's components and is the ceremonial beginning of the ship.
The ultra unit that was used for laying the ship's keel weighs over 4,500 tons and will serve as the ship's main and auxiliary machinery rooms, ship's galley, living quarters, and work spaces.
"Together with Bath Iron Works, we're very honored to have the Monsoor family with us here today to commemorate the first milestone in bringing this ship to life," said Capt. Jim Downey, DDG 1000 program manager, Program Executive Office, Ships. "This extremely capable warship is a lasting tribute to Petty Officer Monsoor's bravery and sacrifice and will symbolize his strength and dedication for generations to come."
Petty Officer Second Class Michael A. Monsoor, a U.S. Navy SEAL, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions while serving in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2006. As noted in the Medal of Honor official citation, "by his undaunted courage, fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of certain death, Petty Officer Monsoor gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
The USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) is the second ship of the DDG 1000 Zumwalt-class destroyers. Construction on the ship began in March 2010. The Michael Monsoor is currently over 60 percent complete and is scheduled to be delivered in 2016.
The USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) will be a multi-mission surface combatant tailored for advanced land attack and littoral dominance. The ship's mission is to provide credible, independent forward presence and deterrence and to operate as an integral part of naval, joint or combined maritime forces. The ship will be 610 feet in length, have a beam of 80.7 feet and displace approximately 15,000 tons.
As one of the Defense Department's largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships, an affiliated PEO of the Naval Sea Systems Command, is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all major surface combatants, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, and special warfare craft.