BATH — The wife of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii has helped Bath Iron Works celebrate a milestone in construction of a destroyer bearing his name.

Irene Hirano Inouye’s initials were etched into the ship’s steel during a keel-laying ceremony Monday at Bath Iron Works. As the ship’s sponsor, she will be responsible for christening the future USS Daniel Inouye later this year or early next year.

Inouye served as senator from Hawaii from 1963 until his death in 2012. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in Italy during World War II, where he lost his right arm in combat.

The keel-laying ceremony goes back to the days of sailing vessels, when construction began with a keel upon which the ship was built.