For Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), great-nephew of President John F.  Kennedy, Saturday held special meaning.

The second-term House member represented the Kennedy family at the keel-laying ceremony for the next USS John F. Kennedy, an aircraft carrier expected to be completed in 2020.

Gathering at a shipyard in Newport News, Va., Joe Kennedy, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) and retired Rear Adm. Earl Yates, who commanded the first John F. Kennedy, watched with others as a giant crane transferred a large beam to the dry dock where the carrier will be built. The beam was a section of the keel, which will help create the structure for the ship’s hull.

Kennedy signed his name to a section of material that will become part of the ship:

Added my signature to the next USS John F. Kennedy. #JFKCVN79

A photo posted by Rep. Joe Kennedy (MA-4) (@repkennedy) on

He spoke with Yates, calling the moment “truly humbling”:

Kennedy also watched as the initials of his cousin and the ship’s sponsor, Caroline Bouvier Kennedy, were welded onto a ceremonial plate:

My cousin Caroline's initials freshly welded onto the keel of the new USS John F. Kennedy. #JFKCVN79

A photo posted by Rep. Joe Kennedy (MA-4) (@repkennedy) on

Caroline Kennedy, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, was not present at the ceremony but sent a video message conveying her gratitude.

“Every ship has a personality,” she said in the message, according to the Navy Times. “I like to hope that this next ship called ‘John F. Kennedy’ will take on some of the personality of the person for whom it is named. … I hope that all those who sail on this ship will sail with the same sense of service to the nation that my father felt.”

Construction on the ship began in 2011, shipyard officials told reporters. It is expected to cost $13 billion before its projected delivery in 2022.

Shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls posted several photos from the ceremony, including the lifting of the keel:

Incredible to watch one of #JFKCVN79's massive keel units go into dry dock this morning. #historyinthemaking

A photo posted by Huntington Ingalls Industries (@huntingtoningalls) on

In this shot, a welder places a weld bead over the initials of Caroline Kennedy:

The ship will join a new carrier class named for President Gerald R. Ford.

“It’s an extraordinary honor, as a Kennedy, for my entire family,” Joe Kennedy said Saturday, according to the Daily Press. “Driving in this morning, it’s hard to put into words, when you see a ship like the Gerald Ford, the magnificence of it.”