Navy sub Illinois christened by Michelle Obama

First lady Michelle Obama christens the USS Illinois with a bottle of sparkling wine Oct. 10, 2015, in Groton, Conn. (Jessica Hill / AP)

First lady Michelle Obama christens the USS Illinois with a bottle of sparkling wine Oct. 10, 2015, in Groton, Conn. (Jessica Hill / AP)


Story Courtesy 

First lady Michelle Obama christened a Navy submarine at a Connecticut shipyard, taking three whacks to break a bottle of champagne against the hull of the USS Illinois and thanking military families for their sacrifice.

“So I want to take a moment to thank you all for everything that you’re doing for each other and for this country,” she said. “I know these service members, these sailors couldn’t do what they do without you.”

Obama also praised the workers at the Groton yard and their “particular genius” in building the sub.

The $2.7 billion vessel is the 13th in the Virginia class of submarines, which can carry out a range of missions including anti-submarine warfare, delivery of special forces and surveillance. The 377-foot submarine will carry a crew of more than 130 and a payload of weapons including torpedoes and Tomahawk missiles.

Obama called the submarine a “technological wonder.”

“It is full of technologies like a photonics mast, full of high-resolution and infrared cameras,” she said. “It has the most advanced stealth, sonar and communications systems and enough high-definition screens to put Best Buy out of business.”

The first lady previously wrote her initials on a steel plate used in the sub’s construction at a keel-laying ceremony last year. She joins predecessors Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton and other first ladies who have sponsored submarines.

Several Connecticut and Rhode Island officials, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus spoke at the ceremony at the Groton shipyard of Electric Boat, a division of General Dynamics Corp. that builds the submarines with Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.

Construction on the submarine began in 2011. It is scheduled for delivery to the Navy in 2016.

The crest of the submarine features an outline of the state of Illinois, a white-tailed deer in honor of the state animal and foliage representing Illinois forest and prairie life. It also has a banner with the Latin words “Nemo Magis Fortiter,” or “none more brave,” a line from the Illinois state song.

[Associated Press]

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USS Little Rock Christening

The ninth littoral combat ship, the future USS Little Rock, launched sideways into the Menominee River in Marinette, Wisconsin, on July 18. Ship sponsor Mrs. Janée Bonner conducted the time-honored tradition of christening the ship by smashing a bottle of champagne across the bow. (Courtesy Lockheed Martin)

The ninth littoral combat ship, the future USS Little Rock, launched sideways into the Menominee River in Marinette, Wisconsin, on July 18. Ship sponsor Mrs. Janée Bonner conducted the time-honored tradition of christening the ship by smashing a bottle of champagne across the bow.
(Courtesy Lockheed Martin)


Story courtesy of Jacksonville.com

The USS Little Rock rolled into the waters of the Menominee River Saturday morning from Lockheed-Martin’s Marinette, Wis., plant.

As the first of eight littoral combat ships currently slated to be docked at Mayport Naval Station by 2020, it is critical to the base’s future.

The littoral combat ship’s importance to Mayport is profound as it will replace — at least as far as numbers go — the retiring fleet of Oliver Hazard-Perry class frigates at the base of which only one remains. Just four years ago, 11 frigates called Mayport home.

Months of sea trials lay ahead before the Little Rock pulls alongside Mayport’s docks, with a delivery date set for December 2016. Though two ships will make a cameo appearance.

The USS Milwaukee and USS Jackson, LCS 5 and 6 respectively, are based in San Diego, but will operate out of Mayport for the better part of 2016.

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Dr. Jill Biden Sponsors and Christens the USS Gabrielle Giffords

Dr. Jill Biden breaks a champagne bottle across the bow of the future USS GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (LCS 10) during the ship's christening ceremony held Saturday, June 13, at the Austal USA Shipyard in Mobile, AL. Watching Dr. Biden christen the ship are, from left: Mr. Craig Perciavalle, President, Austal USA; CAPT Mark Kelly, USN (Ret); and his wife and the ship's namesake, the Honorable Gabrielle Giffords, former U.S. Representative, Arizona's 8th District. June 13, 2015. (Official White House Photo by SSGC Public Affairs Officer David Stoltz)

Dr. Jill Biden breaks a champagne bottle across the bow of the future USS GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (LCS 10) during the ship’s christening ceremony held Saturday, June 13, at the Austal USA Shipyard in Mobile, AL. Watching Dr. Biden christen the ship are, from left: Mr. Craig Perciavalle, President, Austal USA; CAPT Mark Kelly, USN (Ret); and his wife and the ship’s namesake, the Honorable Gabrielle Giffords, former U.S. Representative, Arizona’s 8th District. June 13, 2015. (Official White House Photo by SSGC Public Affairs Officer David Stoltz)


Original Story Courtesy White House

By James Gleeson

On Saturday in Mobile, Alabama, Dr. Jill Biden took part in the christening ceremony for the USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10). The ship is named after former Congresswoman and Navy spouse Gabby Giffords. In the words of Dr. Jill Biden, Gabby is part of “an incredible military family, who gives true meaning to the ideals of honor, courage, and commitment.” Dr. Biden, a proud military mom herself, was asked to be the ship’s sponsor.

In her remarks at the christening ceremony, Dr. Biden reflected on the inspiring nature of Gabby Giffords in her ability to overcome adversity and her refusal “to let tragedy overshadow the ideals that define her.” Dr. Biden said Gabby “represents the same qualities the Navy embodies.” Noting that, “wherever the USS Gabrielle Giffords travels—the world will know it is unrelenting, it is unstoppable, and it is the full definition of a patriotism that defines the greatest, most powerful country in the world.”

Dr. Biden also commended the brave men and women who serve with distinction in the Navy for their sacrifice and resilience. With that, Dr. Biden recognized what an honor it is to “sail with you… and to be your shipmate for life. I am deeply committed to serving all of you as well as you serve our country each and every day. May the USS Gabrielle Giffords and our Navy family who are associated with her, forever sail with fair winds and following seas.”

The USS Gabrielle Giffords is the sixteenth U.S. Navy ship to be named for a woman and the thirteenth since 1850 to be named for a living person. The ship is expected to be delivered to the Littoral Combat fleet by 2017.

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Austal Celebrates Christening Of Manchester (LCS 14)

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen christens the USS Manchester (LCS 14) at Austal’s Mobile, AL facility. (Photo Credit: Austal)

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen christens the USS Manchester (LCS 14) at Austal’s Mobile, AL facility. (Photo Credit: Austal)


Story Courtesy Austal USA/General Dynamics

MOBILE, Ala. – Austal officials joined ship sponsor U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen and many distinguished guests in celebrating the christening of the nation’s 14th littoral combat ship (LCS), the future USS Manchester, here Saturday, May 7, 2016.

Manchester (LCS 14) is the fifth LCS in Austal’s 11-ship, contract worth over $3.5 billion. With its shallow draft of 14 feet, the Austal-built Independence-variant LCS is an advanced high-speed and agile 419-foot aluminium trimaran combat ship that combines superior seakeeping, endurance and speed with the volume and payload capacity needed to support emerging missions.

“On behalf of Austal USA’s shipbuilding team, one of the most talented that I’ve ever worked with, we are proud to provide our sailors with an amazing warship that will honor the great city of Manchester as she defends our nation,” said Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle. “We’re equally excited to share this celebration with an amazing patriot in Senator Shaheen who has served in her role as both Governor and Senator, and now gives her spirit as the sponsor to this awesome ship.”

Shaheen, the only woman in U.S. history to be elected both a Governor and a United States Senator, has served in the Senate since 2009. She has been committed to serving the citizens of New Hampshire for decades and is known for her common-sense leadership, hard work and dedication to improving the lives of the middle class  As New Hampshire’s Governor, Shaheen helped create nearly 67,000 new jobs while keeping New Hampshire’s tax burden the lowest in the country. She and her husband, Bill – a New Hampshire native – live in Madbury and have three daughters, Stefany, Stacey and Molly (Matron of Honor), and seven grandchildren.

Traditionally, the christening of a ship is where the ship’s sponsor blesses the ship by breaking the bottle of champagne on the bow of the ship and ceremonially gives the ship its name. The roll of sponsorship represents a lifelong relationship with the ship and her crew.

The future USS Manchester (LCS 14), will launch in mid-May and is scheduled for delivery in 2017. She has a maximum speed of more than 40 knots, a voluminous 28,000 sf mission bay, and a flight deck capable of simultaneously holding two H-60 helicopters.

Austal’s LCS program is in full swing with three ships delivered and seven ships under construction at this time. Montgomery (LCS 8) conducted acceptance trials late last week.  Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) and Omaha (LCS 12) are preparing for trials. Final assembly is well underway on Tulsa (LCS 16) and modules for Charleston (LCS 18) andCincinnati (LCS 20) are under construction in Austal’s Module Manufacturing Facility.

The company has also been contracted by the U.S. Navy to build 10 Expeditionary Fast Transports (EPF). Of the 10 ships included in the $1.6 billion block-buy contract, six have been delivered.

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Susie Buffett Christen USS Omaha

MOBILE, Ala. (Dec. 19, 2015) Susan A. Buffett, ship's sponsor for the littoral combat ship Pre-Commissioning Unit, Omaha (LCS 12), breaks a bottle across the ship's bow during a christening ceremony at Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael C. Barton/Released)151219-N-OR477-130  Join the conversation: http://www.navy.mil/viewGallery.asp http://www.facebook.com/USNavy http://www.twitter.com/USNavy http://navylive.dodlive.mil http://pinterest.com https://plus.google.com

MOBILE, Ala. (Dec. 19, 2015) Susan A. Buffett, ship’s sponsor for the littoral combat ship Pre-Commissioning Unit, Omaha (LCS 12), breaks a bottle across the ship’s bow during a christening ceremony at Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael C. Barton/Released)151219-N-OR477-130


Story courtesy WPMI/UTV44

MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) – On Saturday, Austal USA delivered the Navy’s latest littoral combat ship at its shipyard in downtown Mobile.

Despite the talk of cutbacks, the mood downtown was upbeat as local leaders vow to fight and keep the ship building program alive for the Port City.

The USS Omaha is the fourth LCS ship to be christened at Austal. This as Washington politicians debate the future of the Navy’s littoral combat ships. “Ship numbers and ship counts have been banded around for political gain and when that happens they do a disservice to our sailors, to our marines and to our ship builders,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.

“For as long as they say we need these ships and as long as Congress supports that we feel we will be in a pretty good shape and a good place going forward,” said Craig Perciavalle, President of Austal USA.

This LCS is a 419-foot aluminum trimaran, capable of being outfitted for a variety of missions. Missions at sea that may be affected after defense officials told the navy this week the LCS program may be cut back.

Alabama’s Congressional Delegation vows to fight for the program which employs more than 4,000 workers in Mobile. “There’s going to be a broad based coalition in Congress to push back at what the Secretary of Defense has proposed. Now this is a proposal. The final decision on this is with the United States Congress,” said Republican Congressman Bradley Byrne.

Defense officials say they want only one company to build future vessels. Currently Austal USA is one of two ship building companies that builds the combat ships.

The new plan calls for building only six of the combat ships between the fiscal years of 2017 through 2020, that’s eight less than the Navy submitted in its original plan.

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USS Jackson Commissioned

151205-N-AC887-003  GULFPORT, Miss. (Dec 5 , 2015) Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus delivers remarks during the christening ceremony for the Navy’s newest Independence-variant littoral combat ship, USS Jackson (LCS 6), in Gulfport, Miss. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Sam Shavers/Released)

151205-N-AC887-003
GULFPORT, Miss. (Dec 5 , 2015) Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus delivers remarks during the christening ceremony for the Navy’s newest Independence-variant littoral combat ship, USS Jackson (LCS 6), in Gulfport, Miss. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Sam Shavers/Released)


Original article courtesy of Navy.mil

By MC2 Kathleen L. Church

GULFPORT, Miss. (NNS) — The crew of USS Jackson (LCS 6) ushered in a new era in naval warfare, Dec. 5, as the ship was brought to life before a crowd of nearly 10,000.

“I hereby place United States Ship Jackson in commission. May God bless and guide this warship and all who sail in it,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who helped name the ship in 2011. “This certainly ranks right up there with great days that I’ve had.”

Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran’s daughter, Dr. Kate Cochran, was the ship’s sponsor. It’s the first ship to bear the name of Mississippi’s capital city. The name held a special meaning for many of those at the commissioning.

“For it to be named after the city, the capital of the state in which you were born, is even more of a phenomenal feeling,” said Command Senior Chief Ken Ballard.

Ballard and 52 other crewmembers will man missions aboard the Jackson, one of the fastest and most technologically advanced warships in the world.

“They’re providing incredible presence. They’re providing lethality. They’re providing a lot of things that the United States Navy needs today and is going to need for years in the future,” said Mabus.

For the crew, the commissioning was the culmination of three years of hard work.

A fast, agile, and high-technology surface combatant, Jackson will act as a platform for launch and recovery of manned and unmanned vehicles. Its modular design will support interchangeable mission packages, allowing the ship to be reconfigured for antisubmarine warfare, mine warfare, or surface warfare missions on an as-needed basis.

The littoral combat ship (LCS) will be able to swap out mission packages, adapting as the tactical situation demands. These ships will also feature advanced networking capability to share tactical information with other Navy aircraft, ships, submarines and joint units.

The brand new 417 foot ship weighs in at 3,100 tons. It can travel at speeds in excess of 40 knots. The USS Jackson will be home ported at Naval Base San Diego.

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Navy Commissions Littoral Combat Ship USS Milwaukee

Milwaukees-Finest-US-Navy-Commissions-Newest-Littoral-Combat-Ship-2700x1800

Sailors assigned to the Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) man the ship during the commissioning ceremony in snowy Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Nov. 21. Milwaukee will proceed to her homeport in San Diego in next year. Photo credit: Lockheed Martin.


Article originally appeared on the Lockheed Martin website

MILWAUKEE, Wis., Nov. 21, 2015 – The U.S. Navy commissioned the nation’s fifth Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) – USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) – in Milwaukee today, officially placing the ship designed and constructed by a Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT)-led industry team into active service.

Milwaukee, the third Freedom-variant in the LCS class, successfully passed Acceptance Trials in September and was delivered to the U.S. Navy on October 16.

“The USS Milwaukee is a warship with capabilities unlike any others,” said Stephanie C. Hill, vice president of Ship & Aviation Systems for Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training business. “The entire Lockheed Martin-led LCS industry team is proud to deliver USS Milwaukee to the crew who will bring this great ship to life to participate in the defense of our great nation.”

The fifth U.S. Navy vessel bearing the name, Milwaukee will transit to its homeport in San Diego, California, where it will be integrated into the fleet and the industry-Navy team will conduct additional program testing and crew training.

The Lockheed Martin-led industry team, which includes shipbuilder Fincantieri Marinette Marine and naval architect Gibbs & Cox, has already delivered two Freedom-variant littoral combat ships to the U.S. Navy. USS Freedom conducted a successful deployment to Southeast Asia in 2013 and is currently operating out of her homeport in San Diego. USS Fort Worth is currently deployed in Southeast Asia, serving in the U.S. 7th Fleet.

Detroit (LCS 7) is scheduled to be delivered in early 2016. Sioux City (LCS 11), Wichita (LCS 13), Billings (LCS 15), and Indianapolis (LCS 17) are in construction. St. Louis (LCS 19) and Minneapolis/St. Paul (LCS 21) are in long-lead material procurement.

The commissioning is the final act that marks entrance of a ship into the naval forces of her nation. It is the final of three events that bring a ship to life: keel laying, launching and christening, and commissioning.

About Lockheed Martin
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that – with the addition of Sikorsky – employs approximately 126,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

About Fincantieri Marinette Marine
Founded in 1942, Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) is located on the Menominee River flowage into Green Bay. The largest shipyard in Wisconsin and the Midwest, FMM has delivered more than 1,300 vessels for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, and commercial customers, including the technologically advanced Littoral Combat Ship Freedom class for the U.S. Navy. In 2008, FMM along with several sister shipyards also based in the Great Lakes region, became part of FINCANTIERI, the largest shipbuilder in the western Hemisphere and the fourth largest in the world. FINCANTIERI operates in the United States through its subsidiary Fincantieri Marine Group, serving both civilian and government customers. Over the past five years, FINCANTIERI invested more than $100 million in both capital infrastructure and its resources to support FMM’s transformation into what is now one of the best shipyards in the United States. Employing approximately 1,500 employees, today FMM is a state-of-the-art, full service new construction shipyard.

About Gibbs & Cox
Gibbs & Cox, the nation’s leading independent maritime solutions firm specializing in naval architecture, marine engineering and design, is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. The company, founded in 1929, has provided designs for nearly 80 percent of the current U.S. Navy surface combatant fleet; approaching 7,000 naval and commercial ships have been built to Gibbs & Cox designs.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Christens USS Illinois

First Lady Michelle Obama breaks a bottle of champagne on the sail of the PCU-Illinois submarine during a christening ceremony at General Dynamics Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton, Conn., Oct. 10, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

First Lady Michelle Obama breaks a bottle of champagne on the sail of the PCU-Illinois submarine during a christening ceremony at General Dynamics Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton, Conn., Oct. 10, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)


Original story taken from The Chicago Tribune/Associated Press

October 10, 2015

First lady Michelle Obama christened a Navy submarine at a Connecticut shipyard, taking three whacks to break a bottle of champagne against the hull of the USS Illinois and thanking military families for their sacrifice.

“So I want to take a moment to thank you all for everything that you’re doing for each other and for this country,” she said. “I know these service members, these sailors couldn’t do what they do without you.”

Obama also praised the workers at the Groton yard and their “particular genius” in building the sub.

The $2.7 billion vessel is the 13th in the Virginia class of submarines, which can carry out a range of missions including anti-submarine warfare, delivery of special forces and surveillance. The 377-foot submarine will carry a crew of more than 130 and a payload of weapons including torpedoes and Tomahawk missiles.

Obama called the submarine a “technological wonder.”

“It is full of technologies like a photonics mast, full of high-resolution and infrared cameras,” she said. “It has the most advanced stealth, sonar and communications systems and enough high-definition screens to put Best Buy out of business.”

The first lady previously wrote her initials on a steel plate used in the sub’s construction at a keel-laying ceremony last year. She joins predecessors Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton and other first ladies who have sponsored submarines.

Several Connecticut and Rhode Island officials, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus spoke at the ceremony at the Groton shipyard of Electric Boat, a division of General Dynamics Corp. that builds the submarines with Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.

Construction on the submarine began in 2011. It is scheduled for delivery to the Navy in 2016.

The crest of the submarine features an outline of the state of Illinois, a white-tailed deer in honor of the state animal and foliage representing Illinois forest and prairie life. It also has a banner with the Latin words “Nemo Magis Fortiter,” or “none more brave,” a line from the Illinois state song.

Associated Press

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Rosa Peralta Christenings USS Rafael Peralta at Maine Shipyard

Rosa Peralta smashes a bottle of Champagne to christen the USS Raphael Peralta, the 35th Arleigh Burke Class Missile Destroyer to be built by Bath Iron Works, Oct. 31, 2015, in Bath, Maine. (Photo: Robert F. Bukaty/AP)

Rosa Peralta smashes a bottle of Champagne to christen the USS Raphael Peralta, the 35th Arleigh Burke Class Missile Destroyer to be built by Bath Iron Works, Oct. 31, 2015, in Bath, Maine. (Photo: Robert F. Bukaty/AP)


Story Originally appeared via The Marine Times

BATH, Maine — First in English, then in Spanish, the mother of a fallen Marine who shielded his comrades from an insurgent’s grenade christened a new Navy destroyer in his honor.

Rosa Peralta asked God to bless the ship named for her son, Sgt. Rafael Peralta, and to keep the crew safe before smashing a bottle of Champagne on the ship’s bow Saturday.

The ceremony at Bath Iron Works to christen the future USS Rafael Peralta paid homage to the slain Marine, who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service of a country to which he emigrated as a boy. He is believed to be the first serviceman born in Mexico to have a naval warship named in his honor.

Peralta was denied the Medal of Honor but awarded the Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest award for valor, after former Defense Secretary Robert Gates ruled the Marine lost consciousness after he was mortally wounded and his body smothered a grenade in Iraq in 2004, saving other lives. But the prevailing belief among the military is that Peralta pulled the grenade against his body to protect his fellow Marines during close combat with insurgents in Fallujah on Nov. 15 that year.

“He believed more about the goodness of America than most Americans, to the point of fighting and sacrificing everything for what America stands for,” Gen. Robert Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, said as he quoted from Peralta’s former commanding officer from the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, the Hawaii-based “Lava Dogs.”

Peralta came to the U.S. with his family, attended high school in San Diego then enlisted on the day he received his green card. He hung only three things on his wall: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and hisMarine boot camp graduation certificate.

Among Marines, Peralta is well known for his heroism.

Instead, Gates honored the Marine with the Navy Cross. But supporters in Peralta’s hometown, on Capitol Hill and in the Navy persistently campaigned for the top award and Peralta’s mother wouldn’t accept the NavyCross until this summer as plans progressed to name the ship after her son.

Peralta’s family said naming the 510-foot guided-missile destroyer after the fallen Marine’s honor has eased some of the bitterness.

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer is one of a handful of Navy ships to be named for Mexican-Americans.

The USS Gonzalez bears the name of Sgt. Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez, a Marine who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Vietnam. The cargo ship USNS Benavidez is named for another Medal of Honor recipient, Raul Perez Benavidez. There’s also a ship named for labor activist Cesar Chavez, a Navyveteran who died in 1993.

But historians at the U.S. Naval Institute believe the Peralta is the first warship named for someone who was actually born in Mexico, said Scot Christenson, spokesman in Annapolis, Maryland.

Bath Iron Works celebrated Peralta’s heritage by printing Saturday’s program in English and Spanish, a first for such an event. And several speakers directed their remarks to the Peralta family in Spanish.

As the ship’s sponsor, Peralta’s mother had the honor of christening the ship. Her daughters served as the ship’s matron and maid of honor. Her other son, Ricardo Peralta, a former Marine, said his brother epitomized the Marine Corps motto: Semper Fidelis, always faithful.

He described to the audience a letter he’d received from Peralta before his death, telling him not to worry and telling him to be proud of his country.

“He writes, ‘I’m proud to be a Marine, a U.S. Marine, and to protect and defend the Constitution of America.’ He said, ‘You should be proud of being an American citizen,'” he said.

Cmdr. Brian Ribota, commanding officer of the warship, said before the event that he relates to the ship’s namesake in a special way: His father was born in Mexico, as well, though Ribota was born in California.

“I can’t imagine growing up the way he did, coming across the border like he did, the sacrifices that he made,” Ribota said. “To everyone on our crew, he’s a hero. The bottom line is he’s an American hero.”

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USS John Warner (SSN 785) Commissioned in Norfolk

USS John Warner is "brought to life" by the ship sponsor during a commissioning ceremony held at Naval Station Norfolk this past Saturday (Photo by Todd Creekman/NHF/Released)

USS John Warner is “brought to life” by the ship sponsor during a commissioning ceremony held at Naval Station Norfolk this past Saturday (Photo by Todd Creekman/NHF/Released)


Original post taken from the Naval Historical Foundation

The newest addition to the U.S. Navy’s submarine fleet is a formidable one. At 377 feet in length, the newest Virginia-class submarine gives the kind of multi-mission flexibility necessary for a strong and adaptable submarine force operating in today’s dangerous waters around the world. For good reason, the U.S. Navy officially heralds it as “the most modern and sophisticated attack submarine world.” As a testament to this, the ship is projected to operate for thirty-three years without stopping to refuel. That particular characteristic sounds strikingly similar to the ship’s namesake, Senator John Warner – a man who never seemed to stop serving his country. This past weekend, thousands came to Norfolk, VA to honor the former Senator, Navy Sailor, and Marine for the commissioning of USS John Warner (SSN 785). It is the first submarine of the Virginia-class to be named for an individual. The Navy’s next ship to break the mold, USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN 795), was recently announced here at the Washington Navy Yard in January.

NHF staff members were on hand on Friday night for a special Chairman’s Reception at the picturesque Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center in Downtown Norfolk. The event, sponsored by the Navy League of Hampton Roads Commissioning Committee, centered around the ship’s namesake and his wife and ship sponsor, Mrs. Jeanne Warner. During the course of the evening on Friday, several awards, plaques, commemorative photographs, and paintings were given to the men and women involved in the construction and operation of John Warner. All on hand were delighted to honor a man whose service and sacrifice dated back to the Second World War.

It was also a special evening for the Naval Historical Foundation. Captain Creekman, USN (Ret.), NHF Executive Director, had the distinct pleasure of presenting the former Senator with an authentic 1975 Navy Jack to be signed and hoisted during the commissioning ceremonies the following day.

1975 Navy Jack signed by Holloway, Greenert, Mabus, Richardson, DeMars, and Middendorf (Photo by NHF/Matthew Eng/Released)

1975 Navy Jack signed by Holloway, Greenert, Mabus, DeMars, Richardson, and Middendorf (Photo by NHF/Matthew Eng/Released)


The Navy Jack presented to Senator Warner to sign was undoubtedly unique. Warner’s signature was the last of a series of signatures by individuals whose connection to the Navy was either current or directly related to Warner’s time as SECNAV and Virginia state Senator. From (L) to (R), the signatures are as follows:

  • Admiral James L. Holloway III, Chief of Naval Operations (1974-1978)
  • Jonathan W. Greenert, 30th and current CNO
  • Ray Mabus, 75th and current Secretary of the Navy
  • Bruce DeMars, Director, Naval Reactors (1988-1996)
  • John M. Richardson, current Director, Navy Reactors and nominated to become the next CNO
  • J. Wiliam Middendorf II, 62nd Secretary of Navy (1974-1977)

While Warner was the Secretary of the Navy, he authorized then Under Secretary of the Navy J. William Middendorf II to design a Navy Jack to mark the 1975 bicentennial of the United States. The result was the current Navy Jack (better known as the “First Navy Jack”), which, after the 1975-76 Navy and national bicentennial, is now flown on every U.S. Navy ship since 2002.

After the Senator’s signature, the flag was turned over to Commander D.B. Caldwell, Commanding Officer of USS John Warner, to be hoisted at the bow of SSN 785 during the commissioning ceremony the following day.

The Saturday commissioning ceremony was hot and humid. Thousands of friends, family, and general public braved the heat to witness Senator Warner’s namesake proceed “on a mission to defend freedom.”

Some speakers took time to reflect on the former Senator’s time in the US Senate, while others highlighted his short but influential time in the military. The keynote speaker, current CNO Admiral Jonathan Greenert, praised the Navy’s newest piece of advanced weaponry, calling her “the latest incarnation of American sea power” and a “strategic asset for this country.” Warner himself wanted to be brief, but managed to wax philosophical to the crew of the ship, giving them a stern command for such a vessel that bears his name:

“Defend the sea lanes of the world which are the very arteries of international commerce. Manned by our submarines, our surface ships, and naval aircraft, we are carefully working to keep those sea lanes open – not just for us but for all.”

Just before the ship was customarily “brought to life” by the ship’s sponsor, the signed Jack was hoisted on the bow of the vessel for the excited crowd to view, as the ship was formally placed in commission by the CNO.

USS John Warner will join Submarine Squadron 6 (COMSUBRON Six) with other Virginia-class submarines and Los Angeles-class submarines. The submarine was delivered both under budget and ahead of schedule. It’s homeport will be in Norfolk, VA.

Fair Winds and Following Seas on your missions.

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