HII’s Newport News Christens Virginia-Class Submarine Indiana
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII’s) Newport News Shipbuilding division on April 29 celebrated the christening of Indiana (SSN 789), the 16th Virginia-class submarine, the company said in an April 29 release.
With a single swing, ship’s sponsor Diane Donald performed the traditional honor of breaking a bottle of American sparkling wine across the submarine’s hull. Donald is the wife of retired Navy Adm. Kirkland Donald, former director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion.
“It’s the honor of a lifetime to be here today,” said Donald. “While the size of the submarine alone is stunning, the complexity inside sets it apart from any other machine ever built. These ships are second to none, made in America by truly remarkable Americans.”
Vice President Mike Pence, former governor of Indiana, served as the ceremony’s keynote speaker. April 29 also marked the 100th day since he and President Donald Trump assumed office.
“He sent me here today on this historic occasion as a sign of his deep commitment to the Armed Forces of the United States of America, and to his commitment to make the strongest fighting force in the world even stronger still,” Pence said of Trump. Speaking to the shipbuilders, he acknowledged their dedication and skill. “You have the gratitude of the commander in chief for your unwavering commitment to your country, your patriotism, your craftsmanship, and rest assured, President Trump will honor your commitment with historic investments in our national defense.”
Other ceremony participants included Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va.; Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.; Sean Stackley, acting secretary of the Navy; Vice Adm. Joseph Tofalo, commander, Submarine Forces; retired Navy Adm. Tom Fargo, HII chairman of the board; Mike Petters, HII president and CEO; Matt Mulherin, president, Newport News Shipbuilding; and Jeffrey Geiger, president, General Dynamics Electric Boat.
Stackley spoke of the U.S. Navy’s important presence around the world.
“More than a hundred U.S. Navy ships are underway, providing assurance to our allies, maintaining persistent surveillance in regions of interest, conducting special operations undetected, safeguarding the choke points of the world, standing poised to assure access to strike if necessary, and providing humanitarian relief if needed,” he said. “And all the while, [Navy ships are] serving as the enduring, reliable deterrent that underpins our nation’s security.”
Speaking on behalf of the state of Indiana, Donnelly thanked the shipbuilders for their service to the U.S. Navy and the Indiana crew. “This crew is going to be at the very tip of the spear,” he said, “and you have given them the tools, the equipment, the ability to accomplish everything.”
About 4,000 Newport News shipbuilders have participated in Indiana’s construction in partnership with General Dynamics Electric Boat. Construction began in September 2012 and is about 90 percent complete. The submarine is on track to be delivered to the Navy this year.
“It’s hard to describe what it’s like to build one of the most complex machines in the world,” Mulherin said. “For our shipbuilders who do this every day — they can even lose perspective of the contributions they are making to our Navy and to our nation. For them, it’s all part of a day’s work — a long, hard, honest day’s work. However, as you look upon this magnificent vessel, I think you’ll agree, it’s no ordinary job. In fact, it’s pretty extraordinary. Our shipbuilders define what ‘Made in America’ means.”
Virginia-class submarines, a class of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines, are designed for a broad spectrum of open-ocean and littoral missions to replace the Navy’s Los Angeles-class submarines as they are retired. Virginia-class submarines incorporate dozens of new technologies and innovations that increase firepower, maneuverability and stealth, and significantly enhance their warfighting capabilities. These submarines are capable of supporting multiple mission packages and can operate at submerged speeds of more than 25 knots for months at a time.