Newport News May 18, 2015 - With more than 500 guests looking into a submarine unit as the ceremony backdrop, Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, celebrated the keel laying of Virginia-class submarine Indiana (SSN 789) on Saturday.
The submarine’s sponsor is Diane Donald, wife of retired Adm. Kirkland Donald. As the keel authenticator, Donald chalked her initials on a metal plate, which were welded into the plate by Newport News welder Heather Johnson. The plate will be permanently affixed to the submarine, serving as a symbol of Donald’s enduring relationship with the shipbuilders, the submarine and the crew.
“I am confident that the shipbuilders of Newport News and their partners at Electric Boat, along with the hundreds of suppliers that provide equipment and craftsmanship unmatched in the world, will extend their legacy of delivering the very best ship,” she said.
Ceremony participants included Vice Adm. Michael J. Connor, commander, Submarine Forces; Stephen Trautman, deputy director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program; Matt Mulherin, president, Newport News Shipbuilding; and Jeffrey S. Geiger, president, General Dynamics Electric Boat.
Connor stressed the quality and importance of the Virginia-class program at Newport News and Electric Boat. “We talk every six months now about yet another milestone in a record of producing submarines ahead of schedule, under cost, highest quality ever, as if it were easy,” Connor said. “It’s not easy. And as we go forward, if we’re going to continue to do that, your effort here needs the support of the entire country in terms of steady, predictable budgets.”
The ceremony took place on Armed Forces Day, a holiday established by President Harry Truman for citizens to thank U.S. military members for their service. In this spirit, Mulherin acknowledged how fitting it was to celebrate the submarine and its crew.
Mulherin highlighted the mindset and commitment that can be found among the Navy, shipbuilder and supplier team that builds Virginia-class submarines. “Together, we are delivering these boats ahead of schedule and under budget while continuing to find new and more innovative ways to build them, and we do it with the highest safety and quality standards,” Mulherin said. “The Virginia-class program continues to be hailed as the nation’s best shipbuilding program, and Indiana will continue that winning legacy.”
Indiana will be the 16th Virginia-class submarine and the eighth submarine to be delivered by Newport News and the sixth of the Block III submarines. Construction began in September 2012, with 4,000 Newport News shipbuilders contributing. The submarine is about 48 percent complete and on track for delivery in 2017.
Geiger addressed the shipbuilders’ commitment to producing capable and affordable submarines like Indiana. “By honoring our commitment, we will help the U.S. fleet attain the submarine force levels required to sustain undersea dominance and safeguard our nation for decades to come,” he said.
The submarine is named for the residents of the state of Indiana and for their support of the U.S. military. Although not on the coast, Indiana is home to the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division, the third largest naval installation in the world. Seventy-five Medal of Honor recipients are accredited to Indiana, spanning the Civil War through the Vietnam War.
Watch video of ceremony