FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.—The United States Navy has commissioned its newest, state-of-the-art destroyer—the USS Paul Ignatius (DDG 117), named after the esteemed Armenian-American World War II veteran and the 59th Secretary of the Navy under President Lyndon Johnson, Paul Robert Ignatius.
Draped in red, white and blue bunting under a summer sky at Port Everglades on Saturday morning, the USS Paul Ignatius served as a stage before thousands of people for the time-honored Naval tradition of bringing a ship to life while celebrating Ignatius’ service to his country.
“This is a major undertaking,” said Ignatius, as he marveled at the sophisticated upgrades from yore. “Today’s sailors, today’s chiefs, today’s naval personnel are skilled technicians. It isn’t like the old days of the navy when you sat around, chipping paint. Each of these men and women who man this ship are highly skilled experts in extremely complex systems to assure our safety, to assure victory in case of combat.”
The USS Paul Ignatius is the 67th ship of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. Navy officials explain that the warship can sail up to 30 knots at sea and is armed with advanced RADAR and SONAR systems that enable the ship to engage targets in the air, on the sea and underwater. “This ship…was designed to prevent war,” said Rear Admiral William Galinis. “But if it does come to a fight…this ship…was also designed and built to ensure that it is an unfair fight.”
The USS Paul Ignatius was christened in Pascagoula, Mississippi in April 2017 by the ship’s sponsor, the late Nancy Ignatius, who passed away earlier this year. “I was so pleased that my wife Nancy was chosen as the sponsor of this ship. I’m pleased that she was able to swing the champagne bottle at the christening,” said Ignatius. “I wish she could have been with us today, but she’s here in spirit.”
Together, Secretary Ignatius and his wife had four children: David, a Washington Post columnist; Adi, editor-in-chief at Harvard Business Review; Amy, a Superior Court judge in New Hampshire; and Sarah, executive director of the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), who told the Armenian Weekly, “I am extremely proud of my father for this tremendous honor. He has lived a life of integrity and service to this country with dedication and humility and still hasn’t slowed down at age 98.” The son of Armenian immigrants, Secretary Ignatius is the highest-ranking Armenian-American military official in US history.
The Ignatius’ eldest granddaughter Dr. Elisa Ignatius served as the ship sponsor representative on Saturday; she referred to her late grandmother as a humble warrior. “The spirit and memories that live on in us—her family—now rest with you, the crew of the USS Paul Ignatius and to all the crews to come. Let her rare character of dedication, humility, wonder and strength animate you and this magnificent ship.”
Then, in a rather exciting moment that signaled the commissioning crew of sailors standing at attention to break formation, Dr. Ignatius proudly exclaimed the first order, “Man our ship, and bring her to life!” Two by two, the officers jogged to their positions on the USS Paul Ignatius to thunderous applause.
The USS Paul Ignatius will be homeported in Mayport, Florida.