The Navys newest attack submarine Texas will be christened Saturday during an 11 a.m. EDT ceremony at the Northrop Grumman Newport News facility in Newport News, Va.
Secretary of the Navy Gordon England will join a number of dignitaries including Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas who will deliver the ceremonys principal address. Texas native Laura Bush, first lady of the United States, will serve as the submarines sponsor. The ceremony will be highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when Bush christens the ship by breaking a bottle of champagne over the submarine to formally name it Texas.
Named to honor the 28th state admitted to the union, Texas is the fourth ship of the U.S. Navy to carry the name since the original Texas was commissioned in 1895. The most recent Texas was the nuclear powered guided missile cruiser, which was decommissioned in 1993.
Texas is the second submarine of the Virginia class and is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in 2005. It has improved stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that will enable it to meet the Navys multi-mission requirements.
Texas 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. Texas will also have a number of additional capabilities to include: superior anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare enhancements, special forces delivery and support, and mine delivery/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. John J. Litherland, born in Landstuhl, Germany, and raised on a variety of domestic and overseas army posts before settling in Las Vegas, N.M., is the ships prospective commanding officer and will lead a crew of approximately 134 officers and enlisted personnel.
The 7,800-ton Texas is 377 feet in length, has a beam of 34 feet, and can operate at more than 25 knots submerged. Texas 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.
Texas 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.