USS Indiana Brought to Life, Commissioned in Port Canaveral
PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. — USS Indiana, the third submarine to bear the name and third vessel to be named for the state, was brought to life by its sponsor, Diane K. Donald, wife of retired Adm. Kirkland Donald, the former director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion and commander, Submarine Forces, Sept. 29, according to a Navy News Service release.
Before giving the order to bring the ship to life, Indiana’s sponsor had a few words to impart to those in attendance and any potential future adversaries.
“Today we celebrate the time-honored tradition of placing USS Indiana into the service of our country. It has been the privilege of a lifetime to have a role in bringing this ship to life,” Donald said, addressing the crowd and ship’s company during the ceremony. “To anyone who wishes our nation harm, take heed, Indiana is taking the watch. Our new silent victors are Indiana strong.”
“I owe everything to my crew,” said Capt. Jesse Zimbauer, commanding officer of Indiana, to those in attendance. ”We have over 5,000 people in attendance today. You wouldn’t be out here if you didn’t have a lethal dose of patriotism. You cannot take a look at those Sailors dressed in their whites, standing on the backbone of the world’s newest and most lethal submarine and not just stand up and cheer!”
Indiana is a part of the Virginia-class’ third, or Block III, contract, in which the Navy redesigned approximately 20 percent of the boat to reduce acquisition costs. Indiana features a redesigned bow, which replaces 12 individual Vertical Launch System (VLS) tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs) each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles, among other design changes that reduced the submarines’ acquisition cost while maintaining their outstanding warfighting capabilities. While the crew of the submarine may only be 140, Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb indicated that the “whole” crew may not fit on board.
“So, as you are serving on this boat, know that your crew is a lot bigger than you may think. In fact, I’d like to say that this crew is 6.6 million strong. Because there are, in fact, 6.6 million Hoosiers who are proud of this USS Indiana. We are proud of and pray for every Sailor that makes up this crew.”
After the ceremony, Indiana was opened up for tours to the general public, to include the crew’s mess, the wardroom, control, and the torpedo room. It is there perhaps that the words of the Director of Naval Reactors, Adm. J. Franklin, Caldwell Jr. stuck home to the thousands who wouldn’t normally step foot inside a nuclear-powered submarine who were the crew train to fight the ship.
“USS Indiana, and her sisters of the Virginia class, will maintain our edge in the undersea environment,” said Caldwell as he addressed the attendees. “Soon Indiana will deploy her stealth, endurance and her flexibility to travel silently under our oceans protecting our nation. She will be collecting intelligence, preparing for battle, and, if necessary, striking from the deep without notice to defend our nation.”