The Navy will christen the amphibious transport dock John P. Murtha (LPD-26) tomorrow at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss.
The tenth ship in the class is named after Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), who served 37 years in the Marine Corps and 36 years in Congress. As a Marine, he served in Vietnam, earned the Bronze Star with Combat “V” and two Purple Hearts, and retired as a colonel in 1990. As a congressman, he chaired the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee that provides funding to the military services.
“Both in uniform and in the halls of Congress, Chairman Murtha dedicated his life to serving his country both in the Marine Corps and Congress. His unwavering support of our Sailors and Marines, and in particular of our wounded warriors, was well known and deeply appreciated,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in April 2010 when he announced the ship would be named after Murtha, who died a month and a half earlier.
Murtha’s daughter, Donna Murtha, serves as the ship sponsor and will break a bottle of sparkling wine across the ship’s bow during the christening ceremony. Huntington Ingalls Industries CEO Mike Petters and Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias will speak at the ceremony, and House Minority Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will be the featured speaker at the event.
Murtha launched from the shipyard on Oct. 30, 2014. The ship is scheduled to deliver to the Navy in 2016.
The next ship in the class, Portland (LPD-27), is set to launch next year. Portland would have been the last ship in the class, but Congress over the past few years pushed for the Navy to build a 12th LPD. Lawmakers authorized incremental funding and over three fiscal years put money towards the LPD, which has dropped in cost from more than $2 billion to about $1.7 billion.