On Thursday, May 23, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works celebrated the keel laying of Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), the second ship in the planned three-ship Zumwalt class of guided-missile destroyers.
The ship is named for Petty Officer Second Class Michael Monsoor, a U.S. Navy SEAL who was killed in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2006. Monsoor was on a joint SEAL-Iraqi Army team operating from a rooftop when an insurgent threw a grenade at them. Monsoor jumped on the grenade, covering it and saving three fellow SEALS and eight Iraqi Army soldiers. Monsoor posthumously received the Medal of Honor from President George W. Bush on April 8, 2008. He was also awarded the Bronze Star and the Silver Star for his service in Iraq.
Michael Monsoor’s parents, Sally and George Monsoor, authenticated the keel at Bath Iron Works on May 23. Sally Monsoor is the ship’s sponsor. A special steel plate containing the initials of Sally and George Monsoor was prepared for the ceremony. The two authenticated the laying of the keel by striking welding arcs onto the steel plate, assisted by David Brown, a 35-year Bath Iron Works welder.
“Thank you from the Monsoor family for your hospitality and your spirit here at the shipyard,” said Sally Monsoor. “I can’t wait to come back here with my children and grandchildren.”
The keel unit is the 4,400-ton, heavily outfitted mid-forebody section of the ship, which was moved from the shipyard’s Ultra Hall construction facility earlier in the month onto the building ways.
Brent West, DDG 1000 program manager for Bath Iron Works, hosted the ceremony and welcomed the audience of several hundred Bath Iron Works employees, Navy personnel and representatives of other major subcontractors in the program.
“This is a special day, as it marks a milestone in the construction of a ship, a tradition that goes back to the earliest days of shipbuilding – an event that’s been done for hundreds of years in this region, and for more than 120 years here at Bath Iron Works,” said West. “Over the next two years, we will continue to build the Michael Monsoor with knowledge and expertise honed over the decades. We look forward to future visits with Mr. and Mrs. Monsoor, as we progress toward delivering a ship that is worthy of the name of Michael Monsoor.”
Capt James Downey, the Navy’s DDG 1000 Class program manager, spoke about Petty Officer Monsoor’s sacrifice and encouraged those present to “build this ship for Mike.”
The DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyer is the U.S. Navy’s next-generation, guided-missile naval destroyer, leading the way for a new generation of advanced multi-mission surface combat ships. The ships will feature a low radar profile, an integrated power system and a total ship computing environment infrastructure. Armed with an array of weapons, the Zumwalt-class destroyers will provide offensive, distributed and precision fires in support of forces ashore. Bath Iron Works is the lead designer and builder for the program which employs approximately 5,300 people.