Navy gives Northrop Grumman $1 billion order to build 9th San Antonio-class ship

PASCAGOULA, Miss., 24 Dec. 2007. Northrop Grumman Corp. won a $1 billion U.S. Navy contract modification to finish design and begin construction on the ninth San Antonio (LPD 17)-class amphibious transport dock ship, which will be named USS Somerset (LPD 25).

Construction on the Somerset will continue at the Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Sector in Pascagoula, Miss.

Northrop Grumman commissioned its third LPD 17-class ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) this month in Panama City, Fla. The USS New York (LPD 21) launched this month and will be christened March 1 in New Orleans.

Coupled with the advance procurement contract funded for LPD 25 in November 2006, the total contract is valued at more than $1.2 billion.

The name Somerset honors the county in Pennsylvania where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed on Sept. 11, 2001, after courageous passengers stormed the cockpit in an attempt to regain control from the terrorists onboard. Their actions prevented the airplane from reaching its destination and inflicting further casualties and damage, and the heroic sacrifice of these 40 passengers and crew rallied and inspired the nation, Northrop Grumman officials say.

The name Somerset also has a proud history in the British Royal Navy, where there have been four such-named warships. The first HMS Somerset, built in 1698, was an 80-gun third-rate ship of the line. The second HMS Somerset, also an 80-gun third-rate ship of the line, was built in 1731 and broken up in 1746.

The third and most famous HMS Somerset, a 70-gun third-rate ship of the line, was built in 1748 and was destroyed after running aground in a gale on Peaked Hill Bars off Cape Cod, Mass. The ship was mentioned in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "Paul Revere's Ride":

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Today the HMS Somerset is a Type 23 frigate in the Royal Navy.

The San Antonio-class ships, 684 feet long and 105 feet wide, will replace the functions of the LPD 4, LSD 36, LKA 113 and LST 1179 amphibious ship classes. The San Antonio-class ships afford the Navy's Expeditionary Strike Group with the technology and flexibility to launch and recover two amphibious Landing Craft, Air Cushions (LCAC), operate an array of rotary-wing aircraft and carry and launch 14 Marine Corps Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles.

The ship will have a crew of 360 officers and enlisted Navy personnel and is capable of embarking a landing force of up to 800 Marines. It has a navigational draft of 23 feet and displaces approximately 25,000 tons. Four turbo-charged diesels power the ship to sustained speeds of 22 knots.

For more information contact Northrop Grumman online at www.ss.northropgrumman.com.

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