NEWPORT NEWS, Va., March 16, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Huntington Ingalls Industries' (NYSE:HII) Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division celebrated the first official construction milestone for a Virginia-class submarine today with its namesake, U.S. Sen. John Warner. The keel was laid for John Warner (SSN 785), the only Virginia-class submarine to bear the name of a person.
"Each submarine we build becomes a piece of our company's history; each submarine becomes a part of our Navy's history, and each submarine becomes a piece of our nation's history," said NNS President Matt Mulherin. "This submarine will hold special significance in our history, for this submarine is the first and only Virginia-class submarine to be named for a person, and I couldn't think of anyone more deserving of such an honor."
Jeanne Warner, the wife of the former senator and the ship's sponsor, had her initials welded onto a metal plate during the ceremony, in keeping with U.S. Navy tradition. In another first, the ship's namesake also had his initials welded onto the plate. The welding was done by NNS shipbuilder Matthew Shilling, and the plate will be permanently affixed to the submarine prior to its delivery to the Navy.
"Navy tradition provides that both the sponsor and the namesake's spirit become a part of the boat, but everyone who has contributed will be an integral part of the spirit and the force that makes the John Warner," said Jeanne Warner. "The great shipbuilders of Newport News and Electric Boat—these remarkable and patriotic American shipbuilders have given their skill, dedication, energy and a commitment to excellence to this boat. They will always sail with the John Warner."
John Warner is the 12thVirginia-class fast attack submarine. Construction began in April 2009 and is about 59 percent complete. The ship is slated for delivery to the Navy in 2015. The Virginia-class construction program has been lauded by the Navy as a model of efficiency and quality, consistently delivering the ships ahead of schedule.
"This ship and its design and its sister ships are one of the most invulnerable platforms in the entire arsenal of our military," Sen. Warner said. "It has in it every single bit of high technology that can be brought to bear by the magnificent manufacturing base, educational base, laboratory base in this country. Nothing has been spared so that the crew of this ship for years and years and decades to come can help preserve our nation's most valued treasure, and that is freedom."
Other ceremony participants included Julie Dyson and Rita Meyer, matrons of honor; Assistant Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley; Adm. John M. Richardson, director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program; Vice Adm. Michael J. Connor, commander, Submarine Forces; Rear Adm. David C. Johnson, program executive officer, Submarines; U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine; U.S. Reps. Robert C. Scott and Rob Wittman; Matt Mulherin, president, Newport News Shipbuilding; Kevin Poitras, president, General Dynamics Electric Boat; and Cmdr. Dan Caldwell, prospective commanding officer, John Warner.
About Huntington Ingalls
Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) designs, builds and maintains nuclear and non-nuclear ships for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard and provides after-market services for military ships around the globe. For more than a century, HII has built more ships in more ship classes than any other U.S. naval shipbuilder at its Newport News Shipbuilding and Ingalls Shipbuilding divisions. Employing about 37,000 in Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana and California, HII also provides a wide variety of products and services to the commercial energy industry and other government customers. For more information, visit: