Thank you, Admiral Greenert, Mrs. Greenert, Admiral Willard, Mrs. Willard, Congressmen Rigell, Forbes, Wittman, and Scott, Commander Nelson, members of crew, family and friends.
After six speakers, I can’t help but to be reminded of the California’s motto:
“Silence is golden.”
I’ve had the honor of representing the golden state of California for almost twenty years now. But being invited here to the commissioning of this boat, and to pay tribute to this crew, is one of the great highlights of a Jong career in Congress. It’s an honor I will never forget.
A few months ago, I had the privilege of visiting USS NEW HAMPSHIRE as she surfaced through the arctic ice. I saw the pride and the professionalism of the submarine community up front. It was the only night I spent with the Navy, by the way.
But that’s why commissioning of one of our attack submarines is a momentous event. Submariners are a rare and special breed. All of us here today are witnesses to history. But through their service and stewardship of CALIFORNIA, this crew will make history. It is ironic that one of your boat’s predecessors, the battleship USS California, was attacked at Pearl Harbor.
As members of our elite Submarine Force, you will be responsible for maintaining America’s forward presence. That presence is America’s natural bulwark against sneak attack and surprise. Like the months and years prior to the Pearl Harbor attack, the Pacific Rim is heating up. This vessel, and this crew, is our best defense against the volatility rising in places like the Far East. And should the unthinkable happen, and this nation finds itself tangled up in conflict, you will be our best offense against any enemy and any adversary.
In a few minutes, Mrs. Willard will order you to bring this ship to life. Members of the crew, take that to heart.
This wonderful vessel is a feat of American engineering and innovation. But without you men, it is simply a lump of wire and steel. A submarine does not have courage. Or cunning. Or determination. It is the Crew that will be CALIFORNIA’s brain, muscle, and lifeblood. You are the soul of this vessel. Crews will come and go. But the spirit that you instilled in this proud boat will ring eternal. That is the great responsibility of the plankowner.
You will be the ones who transform the California into a lethal weapon of war. But also understand that your mission is to be a lethal instrument of peace. As submariners, you are America’s first line of defense. You are our powerful deterrent against aggression and chaos. The submarine is the quiet whisper in our enemies’ mind, the doubt that gives them pause. They know that they cannot bring violence to our shores so as long as you are on our walls and beneath our seas. They know your mission is to take the fight to the enemy, so that the enemy cannot bring the fight to us. Understand that there is no higher calling, no greater duty, than to keep this nation out of war.
Ladies and gentlemen, this crew will help keep that peace. And ladies and gentlemen, this crew is elite. Our Submarine Force is the envy of every nation on earth. It is the pinnacle of centuries worth of tradition, of skill, of pride, and of professionalism.
Today, this crew will man the pride of America’s manufacturing capacity:
-a state-of-the art vessel that will quietly patrol beneath the waves, not only as the muscle and the backbone of our Fleet, but also its eyes and ears.
Members of the crew: always keep your eyes and your ears open. Remember your oath and your creed.
This nation depends on you, and your stewardship of the California.
- You are the quiet warriors.
- You are the silent sentinels.
- You are the shield around us.
- You are the chosen few.
The sea favors the most capable sailors.
Gentlemen, take that expertise and push out from this safe port and into danger and glory.
Explore, dare, and discover.
May God watch over this crew, so that this crew may watch over us.
Thank you for your service.
Thank you for having me, God Bless the USS CALIFORNIA, and God Bless America.