Governor Warner, Senators Warner and Allen, Congressmen Shrock, Forbes and Scott, Mrs. Robb, Secretary Young, Fellow Flag Officers, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, and men of VIRGINIA, good morning.
Today is an auspicious day, and an important occasion. The Navy has not commissioned a submarine since USS CONNECTICUT (SSN 22) on 11 December 1998. Today, after five years and 317 days, we bring to an end the longest drought in submarine commissioning that we have seen in our 104 years of service. We end it with the commissioning of VIRGlNIA, an entirely new class of submarine that was designed after the end of the Cold War to operate in the post-Cold War environment.
In my job, I have been able to work with many of the people who have made this day possible. It was the gifted, dedicated, and tireless efforts of the people within the Navy Secretariat, the Fleet, Team Submarine and NAVSEA, Supervisor of our Naval Warfare Centers and our University Laboratories, the shipbuilders at General Dynamic Electric Boat and Northrop Grumman Newport News, the combat systems electronics and weapons manufacturers at Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and so many, many others, and especially the officers and crew of VIRGLNIA -they are the people who made this day a reality. Their accomplishments are truly astounding.
VIRGINIA is the first U.S. Navy warship designed after the fall of the Berlin Wall to meet the emergent needs of the Post Cold War era. Armed only with a clean sheet of paper and ideas about what the future held, the designers created a submarine tailor-made for current and future conflicts-conflicts like the Global War on Terrorism. Furthermore, they designed a ship that will be easily and readily upgradeable so that no future threat goes without VIRGINIA ‘s decisive response .
The Submarine Force has a history of aggressively and success-fully addressing current and future needs. Starting with NAUTILUS, the first nuclear-powered submarine commissioned over 50 years ago, to USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, the first ballistic missile submarine, to USS PROVIDENCE, the first ship equipped with Vertical Launch Tubes, the Submarine Service has been able to anticipate needs and provide the right platforms and systems to our Nation. VIRGINIA is no exception. She is designed to excel in each of her seven major mission areas. Add to that, VIRGINIA ‘s inherent stealth and ability to carry out all of these missions in both the deep water and the world’s coastal shallows, and this is truly a first of a kind warfighter.
We designed and built VIRGINIA to be more crew-friendly. We have done away with hot bunking, and given each man his own personal space. We have redesigned the galley and crews’ mess for better service and comfort. We have reduced the number of men needed to take this boat to sea through technological innovations and enhancements. VIRGINIA even has a reconfigurable torpedo room that will accommodate our Special Warfare Forces.
VIRGINIA, then, is an aggressive and powerful response to current and future threats. With its stealth, speed, and lethality, VIRGINIA will be a potent weapon in the Global War on Terrorism. From this day forward, our enemies should be sleeping less soundly because even though the seas may look calm, VIRGINIA and her crew will be ever vigilant, ever present, and ever ready.
Men of VIRGINIA, John Paul Jones would be so proud, for today we have delivered all that he requested-a fast ship to sail into harm’s way.
Sail with God’s speed