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US Navy lays keel for 3rd Flight III Arleigh Burke destroyer Ted Stevens (DDG 128)

USS Ted Stevens (DDG 128) keel laying
The keel of future USS Ted Stevens (DDG 128) was ceremonially laid at Ingalls Shipbuilding on March 9, 2022. Photo: US Navy

The US Navy laid the keel of future USS Ted Stevens (DDG 128), the 78th Arleigh Burke-class ship, at Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding in a ceremony on March 9.

The ship is named for the late Senator Ted Stevens from Alaska. Stevens was the longest-serving Republican US Senator in history at the time he left office and was the third senator to hold the title of president pro tempore emeritus. He was the president pro tempore of the United States Senate in the 108th and 109th Congresses.

In addition to being the 78th ship in its class, future USS Ted Stevens will be the third Flight III hull, introducing improved capability and capacity to perform anti-air warfare and ballistic missile defense in support of the integrated air and missile defense mission. The Flight III design contains modifications to enable the SPY-6 radar, in association with Aegis Baseline 10, which includes larger electronically scanned arrays. The ships will also feature improved power generation and cooling capabilities required to operate a powerful new radar.

Flight III is the latest Flight upgrade in the more than 30-year history of the class, building on the proud legacy of Flight I, II and IIA ships before it.

The contemporary keel laying ceremony represents the joining together of a ship’s modular components at the land level. The keel is authenticated with the ship sponsors’ initials etched into a ceremonial keel plate as part of the ceremony. Sponsors of DDG 128 are Catherine Stevens, wife of the ship’s namesake, and Susan Stevens Covich and Lily Stevens Becker, daughters of the namesake.

“The Flight III upgrade fulfills a critical need for the Navy. Flight III ships like the future USS Ted Stevens will serve as a deterrent to our adversaries using the ship’s increased power projection capability as a result of the upgraded AEGIS Combat System and Air and Missile Defense Radar,” said Capt. Seth Miller, DDG 51 class program manager, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. “We are honored to have the Stevens family with us today as we mark this important milestone in building the Navy’s and the Nation’s next great warship.”

USS Ralph Johnson joined US 7th Fleet in October 2021.
US Navy file photo of Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114) in the Philippine Sea.

HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding is also in production on the future USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG 123), USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125), USS Jeremiah Denton (DDG 129), and USS George M. Neal (DDG 131).

Huntington Ingalls Industries laid the keel for its first Flight III ship, the future Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125), in early November 2019, while General Dynamics Bath Iron Works – the other builder of US Navy destroyers – began work on its first Flight III ship in March 2020.