Mrs. Gates, aforementioned Distinguished Guests, members of the Submarine Force Family, ladies and gentlemen, it is truly an honor to be with you today as we celebrate this key milestone in bringing additional capability to our Submarine Force, and our Nation.
Becky, we are so proud that you are the sponsor for this fine ship named MISSOURI. With your proven commitment to our military men and women, and their families, I believe that it was especially fitting that you were chosen to sponsor this ship. On behalf of the Submarine Force, I thank you for accepting this important role.
Our Submarine Force has built upon a strong legacy of selecting and training the best people, building and maintaining the very best ships, and equipping those ships with the latest technology and advanced equipment.
Today, MISSOURI will complete a significant milestone toward adding to that legacy. One hundred and ten years ago, in these very waters of the Thames River, our Submarine Force was born with the commissioning of USS HOLLAND. Fifty years ago USS GEORGE WASHINGTON also left these waters as the first fleet ballistic missile submarine, initiating a new era of Strategic Deterrence.
And today, history is once again being made in these waters as the most advanced war fighting machine built in America is commissioned into service to defend our nation’s freedoms.
She will join her sister ships of the Virginia class, to provide a huge leap forward in undersea capabilities to accomplish new missions – in this new century.
MISSOURI is a tremendous investment by the American taxpayers, yet she and her crew have already begun to prove her worth.
She is being delivered to us today only two years after her initial crew manning. Recently, her crew performed propulsion plant power range testing, crew certification and her fast cruise milestones without pause and completed each test with flying colors.
Despite 4 months of shift work in difficult shipyard conditions, the crew of the MISSOURI leads all 88 of our submarine crews in the reenlistment rate of her outstanding Sailors. Commander Rexrode, I personally thank you and your leadership team for setting MISSOURI on the right course to a future of success.
Soon MISSOURI will be in the far waters of the world delivering the stealth, persistence and flexibility in high demand by our Combatant Commanders and in support of our national maritime strategy. Commander Rexrode, that day will come soon and under your leadership, I’m confident your crew will be ready.
To the crew of USS MISSOURI, and General Dynamics Electric Boat and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding Teams, thank you for your commitment to building the best submarines in the world so that our Navy can ensure continual freedom of the seas .