NEWPORT NEWS, Va., Jan. 26, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Huntington Ingalls Industries (NYSE:HII) celebrated significant progress today as the 555-metric ton island was lowered onto the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) at the company's Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division. The island will serve as the command center for flight deck operations aboard the first of the next-generation class of aircraft carriers.
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"The Gerald R. Ford continues our tradition of building quality ships," said NNS President Matt Mulherin. "It is our duty, our responsibility and--indeed--our great privilege because we know CVN 78 will provide American presence and diplomacy anywhere she is needed. She will be home to thousands of sailors, and she will keep President Ford's legacy alive for future generations."Susan Ford Bales, daughter of the late President Gerald R. Ford and Betty Ford, serves as the ship's sponsor and participated in the event. "Shipbuilders--thank you for your extraordinary work," she said. "You are a national treasure. Thank you very much." Ford Bales also placed items under the island during the mast-stepping, an ancient Roman ceremony in which coins were put into the mast of a ship to ensure safe passage and good luck. Ford Bales placed a sandstone piece made of the same sandstone used in the construction of the White House and the U.S. Capitol. The piece was embedded with a unique coin designed by Ford Bales, as well as five official seals representing her father's service to the nation.