April 6 (UPI) -- The keel of the future USS Harvey C. Barnum, Jr., destroyer was laid at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works shipyard in Bath, Maine, on Tuesday, the U.S. Navy announced.
According to a Navy press release, Col. Harvey "Barney" Barnum, Jr., and his wife and ship sponsor, Martha Hill, attended the ceremony along with Acting Secretary of the Navy, Thomas W. Harker.
"Col. Barnum has spent his life in service to our country and it is an honor to lay the keel of his ship," Capt. Seth Miller, DDG 51 class program manager, said at the ceremony, according to the Navy's release.
"This ship and all who serve aboard it will be a reminder of the honor, courage, and commitment that Col. Barnum embodies," Barnum said.
Barnum, a former U.S. Marine Corps officer, served twice in Vietnam and received a Medal of Honor.
The award was given for his actions at Ky Phu in Quang Tin Province in December 1965, where his company came under fire and was separated from the rest of their battalion.
Barnum continued to serve in the Navy for 27 years, retiring in 2008 with the title of Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Reserve Affairs, which he held for seven years, according to his official biography.
Barnum inscribed his signature onto the keel plate with the assistance of Bath Iron Works welder Marty Fish, and Martha Hill authenticated the keel by etching her initials into the keel plate.
Maine's representatives in Congress, U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, Jr., and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, also attended the event.
The USS Barnum will be a Flight IIA destroyer equipped with Aegis Baseline 9, which is intended to provide improved air and missile defense as well as increased computing power and radar upgrades.