The Navy’s newest attack submarine North Carolina will be christened Saturday, April 21, during an 11 a.m. EDT ceremony at Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipyard, Newport News, Va.
The fourth submarine of the Virginia class, SSN 777, will bear the name North Carolina to honor the Tar Heel State.
The submarine will be the fourth ship of the U.S. Navy to bear the name North Carolina. The first was a 74-gun ship-of-the-line that served from 1820 to 1836. The second North Carolina was a Tennessee-class armored cruiser that was also built at the Newport News shipyard and served from 1908 to 1921. The third North Carolina was the first of the Navy's modern battleships, serving from 1940 to 1947, earning 12 battle stars for service during World War II. The battleship now serves in Wilmington, N.C., as a memorial for all North Carolinians killed in World War II.
Vice Adm. John J. Donnelly, commander, Submarine Force, commander, Submarine Force, Atlantic, commander, Allied Submarine Command, will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Linda Bowman, wife of retired Adm. Frank "Skip" Bowman, former director, Naval Nuclear Reactors, will serve as sponsor of North Carolina. The ceremony will be highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when Mrs. Bowman christens the ship by breaking a bottle of champagne over the submarine.
This next-generation attack submarine, the Virginia class, will provide the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation's undersea supremacy well into the 21st century. North Carolina will have improved stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that will enable it to meet the Navy's multi-mission requirements.
Virginia class submarines are able to attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters or other sea-based forces. Other missions include anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare; special forces delivery and support; and mine delivery and minefield mapping. With enhanced communications connectivity, the submarine also will provide important battle group and joint task force support, with full integration into carrier battle group operations.
Cmdr. Mark E. Davis, a native of upstate New York, will become the ship’s first commanding officer and will lead a crew of approximately 134 officers and enlisted personnel.
The 7,800-ton North Carolina is being built by Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipyard, and is 337 feet in length, has a beam of 34 feet, and can operate at more than 25 knots submerged. North Carolina is also designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship-reducing lifecycle costs while increasing operational availability.