The U.S. Navy will christen Virginia, lead ship of the latest class of attack submarines, Saturday, Aug. 16, 2003, during an 11 a.m. EDT ceremony at Electric Boat in Groton, Conn.
Sen. George Allen of Virginia will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Lynda Johnson Robb, wife of former Sen. Charles Robb of Virginia and the daughter of 36th President Lyndon Baines Johnson, will serve as ship’s sponsor.
The ceremony will be highlighted in the time-honored Navy tradition when Robb christens the ship by breaking a bottle of champagne over the submarine. This is the sixth ship of the U.S. Navy to carry the name Virginia since the original Virginia was commissioned in 1777. The most recent Virginia was the nuclear powered guided missile cruiser which was decommissioned in 1994.
The Navy's next-generation attack submarine, the Virginia class, will provide the U.S. Navy with the capabilities it requires to meet the threats of the 21st century. Virginia will have improved stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that will enable it to meet the Navy's multi-mission requirements.
Virginia will be 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 forces. Virginia will also have superior anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare capabilities, provide special forces delivery and support, and conduct 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.
Virginia is 377 feet in length, has waterline beam of 34 feet, a navigational draft of 32 feet, displaces approximately 7,800 tons submerged, and can dive to depths greater than 800 feet, and can sustain speeds of more than 25 knots when submerged. She is also designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship – reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time.
The ship’s prospective commanding officer, Capt. David Kern, a native of Binghampton, N.Y., and a Naval Academy graduate, will lead a crew of approximately 132 officers and enlisted Navy personnel.
The superior capabilities of Virginia class will ensure the United States maintains undersea dominance, in both deep and shallow waters, well into this century.
Additional information about this class of ship is available on line at http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/factfile/ships/ship-ssn.html.