Former Sen. Carl Levin, of Michigan, whom the ship was named after in 2016, spoke at a ceremony Friday, along with Maine's senators, Susan Collins and Angus King, and House members, Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden and Navy Secretary Richard V Spencer.
Levin and the ship's sponsors, the former senator's daughters Kate Levin Markel, Erica Levin and Laura Levin, authenticated the keel by etching their initials into the keel plate. They symbolically recognize the joining of modular components and the ceremonial beginning of the ship.
Levin served in the U.S. Senate for 36 years until 2015 -- the longest tenure in Michigan state history. Levin was chairman and ranking Democrat of the Senate Committee on Armed Services.
"We are honored to be celebrating this milestone with Sen. Levin, Mrs. Levin, their daughters, and so many distinguished guests," Capt. Casey Moton, the class program manager of the Program Executive Office Ships, said in a news release. "This has been a special occasion to lay the keel for our Nation's 70th Arleigh Burke destroyer, and to do so with a namesake that shares the same sense of purpose and commitment to service as our sailors."
BIW is contracted for an additional six Arleigh Burke-class destroyers with enhanced air and missile defense capabilities, and also has the Zumwalt-class destroyer Lyndon B. Johnson under construction.
"These multi-mission surface combatants serve as integral assets in global maritime security, engaging in air, undersea, surface, strike and ballistic missile defense, as well as providing increased capabilities in anti-submarine warfare, command and control, and anti-surface warfare," the Navy said in a news release.
The Arleigh Burke class destroyers replaced the Charles F. Adams class in 1991. Sixty-two ships, which are 505 feet long and contain are crew of 329, are currently operating in the fleet, according to the Navy.
The USS Carl M. Levin is expected for delivery to the fleet in 2021.