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Admiral Donald, thank you.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Platform Guests, Northrop Grumman Newport News and General Dynamics Electric Boat Employees, North Carolina and Virginia Congressional Delegations and members of the Submarine Force Family, it’s a wonderful day and it is my pleasure to address you this morning. I too would like to give a special welcome.

I too would like to give a special welcome from the Submarine Force to PCU NORTH CAROLlNA’s Sponsor Mrs. Linda Bowman, her daughter Christy and daughter-in-law Kerry and of course Admiral Skip Bowman. Linda, the Crew of NORTH CAROLINA is truly fortunate to have you as their sponsor.

Commander Davis and the Crew of NORTH CAROLINA, it is truly an honor to be with you today celebrating this key milestone in bringing a new warship closer to joining our Submarine Force. You, along with your Northrop Grumman Newport News/General Dynamics Electric Boat ship building partners have worked tirelessly over the past 3 years towards delivering this ship … a ship designed to serve the Navy and the nation and dominate the undersea environment.

While you have been busy building this fourth magnificent ship of the Virginia class, your shipmates on other submarines have been serving around the world, underwater, undetected, in places others can’t go. Never fear, your tum to deploy will come soon enough. Soon this remarkable submarine will join the fleet and help our Navy ensure the prosperity and security of our Nation.

USS NORTH CAROLINA will be powerful, graceful and quiet. At her top speed she will make less noise than most of our submarines do at 5 knots. Her firepower, stealth and agility are tailored perfectly to meet the maritime challenges of the future. She will serve the United States Navy as a powerful force for deterrence and peace around the world to ensure freedom of the seas.

Our Submarine Force is built upon a strong legacy of selecting and training the best people, building and maintaining the best ships, and equipping those ships with the latest technology and most advanced equipment.

NORTH CAROLINA, along with the entire Virginia class of submarines, will provide a huge leap forward in capabilities to accomplish new missions in this new century. T

This Christening Ceremony truly brings into focus my three top priorities as the Submarine Force Commander:

  • First, operational excellence. Our focus must be on the basics. Our standards are necessarily high and expectations are equally high. As the Northrop Grumman and the PCU NORTH CAROLINA Team continue the task of preparing this ship and crew for commissioned service, I challenge them to meet those high expectations.
  • Second is the professional development of our Submarine Force personnel. Every member of our force, active duty, reservist and civilian together with their family members is vital to our success. Now here is this more evident than in the hand picked crew and highly skilled shipbuilders standing before you. Each and every one of them is contributing to the success we are celebrating here today.
  • Finally, we must maintain our primacy by continuing to modernize our submarine fleet. What better example than this, the newest submarine in the world today. Soon she will deliver the stealth, persistence and multi-mission capabilities that are in such high demand by our Combatant Commanders
  • .

As you can see, all three of these priorities are evident here today not only in the Crew of North Carolina but in the great Shipbuilding team lead by Mr. Mike Petters and Mr. John Casey.

Our people are the cornerstone of our Force. Standing before you today ladies and gentlemen, are talented, motivated Sailors that have chosen to serve their nation preparing this ship for service.

The state of North Carolina has been a rich source of talented people for the Submarine Force. Six of the crewmembers from this ship hail from North Carolina. In fact, three of the Submarine Admirals here today (ADM Bowman, ADM Donald and RADM Mauney) have very strong ties to North Carolina.

And the crew of this ship has already formed strong and lasting ties with their namesake state. Since assuming command in November of last year, Commander Davis and members of his crew have toured the state giving briefs to Submarine Veterans, Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps units, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and each of the state Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps units. Crew members have performed community service including visits to the Children hospital, working with Habitat for Humanity, and volunteering at a local shelter in Durham.

Commander Davis has even served as the Grand Marshall for the Azalea Parade down in Wilmington and I’m told the crew has befriended Miss Chelsea Cooley, the 2005 Miss North Carolina and winner of the Miss America title. As you can sec, these Sailors are remarkable men!

Today’s Submariners make up a small portion of our Navy-approximately 7% of our personnel operating about 24% of our combat ships and they are out front around the globe every day providing for our national security.

Our submarines are in constant high demand. Our men and ships go to sea to train, hone their skills and then deploy to all comers of the globe. We are busy-on any given day more than 60% of our attack submarines are underway, and I 0 are deployed forward.

In 2006, we deployed 3 1 of our 52 nuclear powered attack submarines throughout the world on lengthy operational deployments. These submarines worked in forward areas, many fully integrated with Carrier Strike Groups, others as part of naval or joint task forces, fulfilling Combatant Commander, Fleet and national tasking.

Our submarines will continue to be in demand, utilizing stealth, endurance, and mobility. Day-in and day-out, they will be enhancing maritime security, gathering vital intelligence information, and shaping the environment to avert the next conflict, yet they stand ready to engage quickly and decisively, if necessary.

Commander Davis, as NORTH CAROLINA’s Commanding Officer; in your hands arc placed the ultimate responsibility, authority and accountability. There is no position in our Navy that requires more trust or deserves more respect. I expect a great deal of you and your team. Lead them well. The entire Submarine Force eagerly awaits the day when USS NORTH CAROLINA will assume the watch.

To the crew of PCU NORTH CAROLINA, to the ship’s Sponsor, Mrs. Linda Bowman and to the Ship Builder Partnership of Northrop Grumman Newport News and General Dynamics Electric Boat, on behalf of the entire Submarine Force, thank you.

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