The U.S. Navy will honor the memory of Alaska’s longest-serving U.S. senator by naming a future Arleigh Burke-class destroyer after him, according to a decision announced Friday.

Alaska’s congressional delegation unveiled the naming of the USS Ted Stevens by Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer in a Friday statement. Under current Navy tradition, the serving secretary personally names upcoming warships.

Stevens, a World War II veteran who flew with the Army Air Corps, spent more than four decades in the Senate and became an Alaska political legend before he was defeated in a 2008 re-election bid by former Anchorage mayor Mark Begich. In 2010, Stevens was one of five people killed among nine people on board a de Havilland DHC-3T Otter which slammed into a hillside near Dillingham.

A photo of Ted Stevens during his Army Air Corps service in World War II. (Courtesy Ted Stevens Foundation)

Since his death, Stevens’ name has been given to Anchorage’s international airport. The Ted Stevens Foundation also celebrates every fourth Saturday in July as Ted Stevens Day.

Sen. Dan Sullivan called Stevens “one of the shining examples of public service to our nation” in the delegation’s statement, nothing both his military and political service.

“I can think of no more fitting tribute than to name DDG-128, a powerful Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, after Ted Stevens,” Sullivan said. “May this ship bearing his name continue his remarkable legacy for decades to come and may her crew gain inspiration for their missions from one of our country’s truly great men."

“In addition to his notable military career, Senator Stevens was a public servant, a mentor, and a dear friend whose dedication and commitment to Alaska was nothing short of extraordinary,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski. “I commend Secretary Spencer and the U.S. Navy for naming a future Arleigh Burke-class Destroyer, the USS Ted Stevens, in his honor—a remarkable acknowledgement of the service, sacrifice, and life of our Uncle Ted.”

“From his service as a pilot in the Pacific Theater during WWII flying over the Hump, to his fierce advocacy for Alaska and our Nation, Ted always exemplified American patriotism,” said Rep. Don Young. “He dedicated much of his adult life in service to our Nation, and I hope that this ship continues to embody his legacy and its name gives her crew the inspiration needed to fulfill her missions.”

The Navy currently sails 66 of the Burke-class destroyers, all-purpose surface combatants which bristle with anti-air and anti-ship missiles as well as torpedoes, anti-submarine helicopters and point-defense weapons. An existing ship in the class, the USS Momsen, visited Anchorage in August.

The 509-foot-long ship, which will be 59 feet wide and have a top speed in excess of 30 knots, will be constructed at Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Ingalls shipbuilding division in Pascagoula, Miss.

Mike Anderson, a spokesman for Sullivan, didn’t have immediate word on when the destroyer would be built, or whether it might be commissioned in Alaska like the amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage was in May 2013.

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