Jan. 7 (UPI) -- A new destroyer will be named to honor former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, the U.S. Navy has announced.
The USS Ted Stevens will be an Arleigh Burke-class Flight III guided-missile destroyer, one of six to be built in a $5.25 billion contract awarded to Huntington Ingalls Industries.
The vessel will be 509 feet long with a 59-foot beam, and armed with air, surface and subsurface fighting capabilities. The ship will be built at HII's facilities in Pascagoula, Miss., which received a contract in June to upgrade existing Burke-class destroyers.
"Senator Stevens was a staunch supporter of a strong Navy and Marine Corps team who served our nation with distinction as a pilot during World War II, and later as a Senator of Alaska," Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said in a press release. "I am pleased that his legacy of service and dedication to national security will live on in the future USS Ted Stevens."
Congress has urged the Navy to honor Stevens, who served as a World War II pilot, winning the Distinguished Flying Cross, before he entered politics. He served as Alaska senator from 1968 to 2009, and died in a 2010 plane crash.
The Navy has 62 Burke-class ships in service, with 14 more under construction.
Ten more, including the USS Ted Stevens, have been authorized by Congress, with six to be built by HII and four by Maine's Bath Iron Works. All ten are expected to be constructed in the Flight III capability.
The Flight III destroyers include improved weaponry and sensors, as well as the new Air and Missile Defense Radar, which is currently under production. The Navy is expected to construct as many as 22 of the new-model destroyers.