NEWPORT NEWS, Va., March 16, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Huntington Ingalls Industries' (NYSE:HII) Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division celebrated the first official construction milestone for a Virginia-class submarine today with its namesake, U.S. Sen. John Warner. The keel was laid for John Warner (SSN 785), the only Virginia-class submarine to bear the name of a person. http://media.globenewswire.com/hii/mediagallery.html?pkgid=17632 "Each submarine we build becomes a piece of our company's history; each submarine becomes a part of our Navy's history, and each submarine becomes a piece of our nation's history," said NNS President Matt Mulherin. "This submarine will hold special significance in our history, for this submarine is the first and only Virginia-class submarine to be named for a person, and I couldn't think of anyone more deserving of such an honor." Jeanne Warner, the wife of the former senator and the ship's sponsor, had her initials welded onto a metal plate during the ceremony, in keeping with U.S. Navy tradition. In another first, the ship's namesake also had his initials welded onto the plate. The welding was done by NNS shipbuilder Matthew Shilling, and the plate will be permanently affixed to the submarine prior to its delivery to the Navy.