Thank you Ms. Stiller for your kind introduction. Congressmen Scott, Heinrich, and Nye, Secretary Rumsfeld, Admirals Greenert, Harvey and Giambastiani, fellow flag officers, and honored guests: Welcome, and thank you for your participation in today’s ceremony.
Mr. Casey, Mr. Mulherin, NEW MEXICO Commissioning Committee, the Electric Boat-Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding team, officers and crew of NEW MEXICO, congratulations on the superb effort that has brought us to this day in the life of this ship, the State of New Mexico, and our Nationa day USS NEW MEXICO starts living her motto-defendemos nuestra tierra- we defend our land. And finally, to our ship’s sponsor, Mrs. Cindy Giambastiani, today is the day you bring your ship to life. Your involvement and support of this crew has set the tone of what we all know will be a beautiful relationship that will carry this crew throughout the life of this ship.
Today is a celebration of a collective effort that started many years ago and involved many hands. As I thought about the countless individuals that have contributed to the Virginia class and this ship the word stewardship came to mind. Stewardship – more than an easy, clean definition; it is a concept- an ethos- a way of behaving. It is caring for something as defined by ownership, without actually owning the asset. Much like “class” stewardship is tough to completely capture in words but is readily identified by its presence or absence.
It is about moving the ball fonmrd to the best of your ability when it is your tum to take the handoff knowing others will enjoy the benefit of your labor. It is deeply intertwined into the most basic aspects of public service, leadership, and serving something greater than one’s self- and it is in a very tangible sense the reason we gather today.
Starting in the early 90’s-before many of NEW MEXICO’s crew were out of diapers- the funding support and design work to build a new class of submarine began. The civilian and unifonned leadership-some of whom are with us today-did the hard work, aligned decision-makers, gathered public support, defined the requirements based on anticipated threats and missions, and controlled the costs.
In short they were stewards- stewards of our Nation’s security and its treasure. People that understood and believed the words of President Kennedy, “Control of the seas means security. Control of the seas means peace.” Over nearly two decades- from the start of the Virginia class work until today- the people in the leadership roles have changed but the personal involvement and support for this ship-for the good of the Nation- have remained, and remain so today.
The stewardship of the design engineers, construction planners, and skilled technicians followed suit by leveraging
efficiencies and lessons learned from over 100 years of submarine construction in order to reach an optimal mix of mission capability and cost reduction.
These great Americans cared about getting all the complex systems, and all the components unique to submarine operations in the most hostile environments-down to the finest detail-exactly right to support shipbuilders and Sailors with whom they would never work or know personally.
The stewardship of Electric Boat-Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding team: in a unique, collaborative effort this alliance has created the worldwide standard for building ships through their Virginia class construction work. Their combined capability is unmatched in efficiency, quality and cost. Even with an enviable record of performance on the first five submarines of this class- the team that built NEW MEXICO set a new schedule benchmark of just 70 months to delivery. This achievement did not come easy.
There were bumps in the road but at the end-of-the-day, this mission-ready ship was delivered in shorter time than any other ship of the class thus far- and a year faster than the last Virginia class built in Newport News (NORTH CAROLINA 70 vs. 82 months).
Aside from the significance of this accomplishment from an engineering and cost saving perspective, it means another much needed asset will be delivered to the Fleet sooner than expected to meet the vitally important needs of our Combatant Commanders for these submarines-needs that play a critical role in our current conflicts and deter potential adversaries (or near peer competitors).
I challenge this remarkable shipbuilding team to continue their good stewardship of the public dollar and trust by showing that lessons earned in this project reap benefits as lessons learned on other projects.
To every member of the NEW MEXICO shipbuilding teamthank you. Thank you for your expertise, your attention to detail, and your very real contribution to our national defense in building a magnificent submarine that you won’t personally deploy on, for Sailors most of whom you will never meet: Stewardship.
To the officers and crew of NEW MEXICO, you are off to a great start. Successful crew formation, new construction period, training ramp up and sea trials are accomplishments for which you should be proud. More than meeting these milestones you have also established a record of excellence in the short life of this ship: First Virginia class submarine to earn their tactical weapons certification prior to the post-shakedown availability, first boat built here in Newport News to earn their fully electronic navigation certification prior to sea trials, and already the recipient of the Squadron 8 Engineering Red .. E” for damage control and engineering excellence.
As I previously stated, part of stewardship is carrying the ball forward to the best of your ability when your time comes. The funny thing about life is that you don’t always have a say when it will be your tum to carry the ball. LT Wielkoszewskiknows all about that. Due to an unexpected personnel transfer, he became the Weapons Officer of NEW MEXICO while on his first sea tour. He and his department worked with the shipbuilders to make the combat systems training capability available as soon as possible in the construction process allowing for the opportunity to earn their tactical weapons certification early. As a result, NEW MEXICO is closer to being ready for the frontline of our national defense. Each member of the crew must do their part on a daily basis and prepare themselves should opportunities of greater responsibility arise. I remind you of Aristotle’s words, “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
So while you have started a record of success- your hard work has just begun. You are still in the formative years of the culture of this ship. Many Sailors that will report long from now will be affected by the standards you espouse now. You will have a meaningful legacy- both in the camaraderie and spirit of the crew, and material condition and longevity of NEW MEXICO. She is built to last over three decades – but will only achieve those years of service through your committed stewardship.
Finally, I want thank Cindy Giambastiani for her dedicated service to the Submarine Force over many years and specifically for her care and compassion for this ship and her crew. Cindy, you are a shining example of selfless service through your work in the community and for our Sailors. NEW MEXICO could not be in better hands with you as her sponsor. Since the christening you have contributed to the personality of this ship and we all look forward to you bringing her to life in a few minutes.
As you can see, the list of contributors to this day are many and the significance and function of each individual is varied but the spirit of stewardship rings true. Each of you that remain associated with the Submarine Force are called to continue to act in the best interest of the ship, the shipyard, the Navy, the American citizens, and Nation; not for the benefit of self, but for country.
I thank you again for joining me for this momentous occasion. I look forward to the continued success of USS NEW
MEXICO and her crew. Thank you.