Veteran's widow christens Navy destroyer

Ship’s Sponsor Ima J. Black christens DDG 119, the destroyer named for her late husband, Delbert D. Black, the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy. Also pictured (left to right) are Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss.; Lt. Cmdr. Mark Gallagher, prospective executive officer, DDG 119; Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven S. Giordano; Marilyn Kendall, matron of honor; and Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias. Photo by Andrew Young/Huntington Ingalls Industries

The widow of the U.S. Navy's first Master Chief Petty Officer christened a ship named for her husband on November 4th in Mississippi.

Ima J. Black is the sponsor of the Delbert D. Black (DDG 119), an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer. The ship was built at Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula.

Delbert Black enlisted in March 1941 and served as a gunner's mate during World War II. He was aboard the battleship USS Maryland (BB 46) during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Black made the Navy his career, serving on nearly a dozen ships in his 30 years of service.

Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias said, "Ingalls’ ships are built for men and women like Master Chief Black with one goal in mind: to protect the brave Americans who protect our freedom."

MCPO Black's widow, Ima J. Black, is also a World War II veteran; she served in the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service). She and Delbert were married for 50 years until he died in 2000. She officially christened the ship by successfully breaking a bottle of champagne across its bow.

"This is a ceremony that we’ve all been looking forward to for a long time," Black said. "My message to the shipbuilders has always been, 'Hurry up! I’m running out of time.' Well, look at me. I made it! I made it! I made it! Today I’m thinking of my husband. I’m wishing that he was standing here instead of me. However, I know that his spirit is anchored in the hull of this ship. Now let us christen this ship and get her ready to join the fleet, where she belongs."

Ingalls has delivered 29 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to the Navy. The destroyers are highly capable, multi-mission ships that can conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection. DDGs are capable of simultaneously fighting air, surface and subsurface battles. The ship contains myriad offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime defense needs.

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