With her Presidential husband’s time in the Oval Office drawing to a close, First Lady Michelle Obama is sure bidding farewell to the government and armed forces with style, pomp and a bottomless pocket. The latter comes in the form of a spanking brand new attack submarine for the Navy, the construction of which has been sponsored by her.
After nearly five and a half years in the Groton, Connecticut yards of General Dynamics Electric Boat, a submarine manufacturer, last Saturday August 27 the sub was turned over to the Navy, who will name it the USS Illinois, SSN 786, in honor of the First Lady’s home state, as ABC News reports.
In addition the First Lady, a Chicago native, means to invest her personal time in looking after the submarine along with its future crew and their families and relatives. This is in accordance with US naval tradition, as explained in a 2012 statement by Navy secretary Ray Mabus, that “a sponsor’s spirit and presence guide the ship and her crew throughout the life of the ship.” He then thanked the First Lady for accepting his offer to be sponsor of the submarine, the 13 th and latest boat of the powerful and advanced Virginia class sub.
The First Lady also expressed her honor of sponsorship in her own statement from that same year. “I'm always inspired by the service and sacrifice of the men and women of the Navy, as well as thefamilies who support them,” she said. “This submarine is a tribute to the strength, courage, and determination that our Navy families exhibit every day.”
The SSN 786 cost $2.7 billion to build, with thousands of shipyard specialists hailing from three states – Connecticut, Rhode Island and Virginia – and several submarine supply outfits all over the country coming together at GD Electric Boat, a distinguished and storied company that has designed and manufactured subs ever since 1900.
Construction went along on the boat without a hitch, and was christened by the First Lady in October of 2015. Recent sea trials also resulted in a “superb” performance, according to Electric Boat vice president Kenneth Blomstedt.
It was a testament to the dedication of the men that built her that the delivery of the USS Illinois to Navy ownership was carried out at August 27; the deadline had been the end of the month. Virginia- class naval program manager Capt. Michael Stevens states that SSN 786 was the ninth submarine in a row that was delivered to the Navy within budget and well before deadline.
The latest iteration of the Virginia class was upgraded with a new bow section packing two large launch tubes for Tomahawk cruise missiles.
USS Illinois will be officially commissioned at Groton on October 29, and will replace some of the Cold War-era subs that are set to be retired.
Photo Credit to propresobama.org