|Ship Sponsor Dr. Jill Biden's initials were welded today onto a steel plate that will be permanently affixed to the submarine Delaware (SSN 791), symbolizing her lifelong relationship with the shipbuilders and crew. Pictured (from left) are Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del., Newport News Shipbuilding President Matt Mulherin, Newport News Shipbuilding welder L.A. Britt, Biden and her grandson, Hunter Biden, and Delaware Commanding Officer Cmdr. Brian Hogan. Photo by Chris Oxley/HII|
Newport News April 30, 2016 - Dr. Jill Biden, the Second Lady of the United States and sponsor of the Virginia-class submarine Delaware (SSN 791), visited Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division today for the submarine’s keel-laying ceremony, during which she declared the keel “truly and fairly laid.” The keel laying signifies the ceremonial start of construction for the newest U.S. Navy vessel named for “The First State.”
In her remarks, Biden addressed the crew of Delaware not just as the ship sponsor, but as a military mother and grandmother.
“It’s our duty to make sure that you have everything you need to stay safe and do your jobs,” Biden said. “You need the very best equipment and advanced technology that we can provide, and soon that will include the USS Delaware, thanks to the ingenuity and skill of the shipbuilders before us.”
During the ceremony, Biden’s initials were welded onto a steel plate that will be permanently affixed to the submarine, symbolizing her lifelong relationship with the shipbuilders and crew.
Other ceremony participants included Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe; Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del.; Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va.; Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va.; Vice Adm. Joseph Tofalo, commander of Submarine Forces, Submarine Forces Atlantic and Allied Submarine Command; Matt Mulherin, president, Newport News Shipbuilding; and Jeffrey S. Geiger, president, General Dynamics Electric Boat.
In his remarks, McAuliffe addressed the importance of the shipbuilding industry in Virginia.
“I want to thank the greatest shipbuilders in the entire world that we have here right at Newport News,” McAuliffe said. “No other state can say this: 28,500 shipbuilders—one out of five in the United States of America—are here in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
More than 4,000 shipbuilders support the construction of Delaware. The submarine will be the newest Navy vessel named for the country’s first state, following the dreadnought battleship USS Delaware (BB 28) that was delivered by Newport News in 1910.
“While Jill Biden’s initials may be the only ones visible today, this submarine also carries with it the names of her shipbuilders,” Mulherin said. “Shipbuilders who sign their name to each and every job they perform, shipbuilders who put safety and quality above all else, and shipbuilders who I have the utmost respect for and complete and total confidence in.”
Delaware is the final ship of the Block III submarines built under a unique teaming agreement between Newport News and General Dynamics Electric Boat.
“Through the effort of this team, the Virginia program has distinguished itself by setting new standards for cost-effective design and construction and advanced mission capabilities for the Navy,” Geiger said. “It’s now a busy time for our team, and we are fortunate to be engaged in a sustained period of increased submarine production. The newest, the Delaware, stands out as a remarkable example of applied and integrated technology, along with the ships of the class that have come before it.”
Construction on Delaware began in September 2013. The submarine is about 56 percent complete and is on track for delivery in 2018.