Northrop Grumman Corporation has been awarded a $369.8 million contract to build an additional DDG 51 Class Aegis guided missile destroyer for the United States Navy. The work will be performed at the company's Ingalls Operations here. The contract awarded today represents funding for the 2002 fiscal year ship, DDG 102, included in a multi-year contract awarded to Ingalls in March 1998. With today's announcement, Ingalls has been awarded contracts to build 25 Aegis destroyers, with 15 ships having been delivered. A 16th destroyer, SHOUP (DDG 86), completed her initial sea trials earlier this month and will be commissioned in the spring. "Our company's involvement with the Aegis program has been a key to our business success for 20 years," said Philip A. Dur, president of Northrop Grumman Ship Systems. "The partnerships established nationwide in this program continue to benefit all Aegis team members across the defense industry. Delivery dates on DDG 51 destroyers at Ingalls extend into 2006 and will keep our experienced, seasoned workforce of destroyer builders engaged well into the 21st century." The U.S. Navy's Aegis program is one of the most important shipbuilding programs in America today. Aegis ships are designed to provide primary protection for the Navy's battle forces, but are also the most balanced surface warships ever built, equipped with the weapons, electronics, helicopter support facilities, and propulsion, auxiliary and survivability systems to carry out the Navy's missions. Aegis destroyers are equipped to conduct a variety of missions, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection. The ships operate with battle groups in high-threat environments and also provide essential escort capabilities to Navy and Marine Corps amphibious forces, combat logistics ships and convoys. As the U.S. Navy's first Aegis shipbuilder, Ingalls also delivered 19 ships in the 27-ship TICONDEROGA (CG 47) Class of guided missile cruisers. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, headquartered in Pascagoula, Miss., includes the Ingalls Operations and the Ship Systems Full Service Center, both located in Pascagoula, as well as Avondale Operations, located in New Orleans and Tallulah, La., and Gulfport, Miss. The sector, which currently employs more than 17,000 shipbuilding professionals, primarily in Mississippi and Louisiana, is one of the nation's leading full service systems companies for the design, engineering, construction, and life cycle support of major surface ships for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and international navies, and for commercial vessels of all types.