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Fast-Attack Submarine Iowa Christened in Groton

With a ceremonial crack of a bottle of sparkling wine, General Dynamics Electric Boat on Saturday celebrated the christening of the Iowa (SSN 797), the newest Virginia-class fast-attack submarine.

Iowa native Christie Vilsack, the ship’s sponsor, wielded the bottle of Iowan bubbly, smashing it against the hull of the 377-foot nuclear-powered submarine before an estimated crowd of 3,000 in a cavernous assembly room at Electric Boat’s shipyard in Groton. The Iowa, adorned with patriotic bunting, served as the backdrop for a ceremony that brought together shipbuilders, members of the ship’s crew, U.S. Navy personnel and government officials.

Iowa, with an estimated cost of $3 billion, is the 24th Virginia-class submarine and constructed as part of the partnership between Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding. The Virginia-class submarine Massachusetts was christened in Newport News, Va., last month.

Virginia-class submarines are designed for a variety of uses that include surveillance and reconnaissance missions and search and destroy missions against submarines and surface ships, and have the capacity to carry Tomahawk cruise missiles that can be fired ashore.

EB President Kevin Graney said the Iowa is 94% completed, the result of not only cutting-edge tools and technology but dedication and hard work of employees who worked through the COVID-19 pandemic. The Iowa is expected to undergo inspections, testing and sea trials before it is delivered to the Navy and commissioned.

Under Secretary for the Navy Erik Raven, in remarks Saturday, said the Iowa joins the fleet “at a critical time when our nation will need the most capable, most ready, most agile and most lethal undersea fighting force to strengthen our nation’s ability to keep the peace, or restore it, through decisive action.”

The Iowa is one of the first submarines specifically designed to accommodate female service members. Women first started serving on board submarines in 2010.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney said the christening “marked another pivotal moment for the Virginia-class submarine program.” Two Virginia-class submarines, the Oregon and Montana, were christened last year. The Iowa and Massachusetts are now on deck waiting for launch.

“The steady cadence is a strong rebuttal to the naysayers and hand wringers who have been mindlessly second-guessing the productivity and capacity of the U.S. submarine industrial base,” Courtney said.

Wilsack, an Iowa native who had a 50-year career in education and is the wife of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, said she had spent time over the past several years on the submarine and with its 132-member crew.

“There are 250 towns in Iowa with 150 people or less, the approximate number of sailors on the USS Iowa. I’ve climbed all over this boat, and there’s not much elbow room there,” she said. “It’s a lot like living in small town Iowa, everyone knows your business, you must get along to survive, out of necessity you build a tolerance for the idiosyncrasies of your neighbors and learn a healthy respect for your special talents.”

The submarine christened Saturday is the fourth U.S. Navy warship with the name Iowa and succeeds the battleship USS Iowa (BB-61), which is now in a museum at the Port of Los Angeles.

The crest for the Iowa is steeped in symbolism related to Iowa and includes 47 silver stars to represent the 47 sailors who were killed when a 16-inch gun turret exploded on April 19, 1989, on the battleship USS Iowa. There is also a wreath with a clover in the center to indicate where Waterloo, Iowa, is located to pay homage to the five Sullivan brothers who were killed in World War II when their ship, USS Juneau (CL-52), was sunk during the Battle of Guadalcanal on Nov. 13, 1942.

Among attendees at Saturday’s ceremony were members of the Royal Australian Navy, the result of a new trilateral agreement known as AUKUS between the U.S., Australia and the United Kingdon that will provide Australia with a nuclear-powered submarine. Courtney said the agreement includes a commitment that for the first time since 1958 the U.S. Navy will share nuclear propulsion technology with Australia.

Courtney and two of his colleagues introduced a bill in Congress earlier this month that provides legislative authority for the transfer of Virginia-class submarines built at Electric Boat to Australia.

Source : Yahoo!News