Pre-Commissioning Unit Arrives in Pascagoula, USA
Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Mississippi (SSN 782) received a hearty welcome when the U.S. Navy’s newest Virginia-class attack submarine arrived in Pascagoula on May 25.
PCU Mississippi and her crew of 145 officers and enlisted Sailors arrived in Pascagoula to prepare for the submarine’s commissioning on June 2.
“As we approached the Port of Pascagoula during the early morning hours and watched the sun rise over the Gulf of Mexico, I was humbled in knowing that we are embarking on a truly amazing commissioning week that we and the state of Mississippi will always remember,” said Capt. John McGrath, PCU Mississippi’s commanding officer. “PCU Mississippi and her crew are excited to be in our namesake state and are looking forward to our commissioning on June 2.”
When the ninth Virginia-class submarine is commissioned, McGrath will become the submarine’s first commanding officer. McGrath and his crew are considered plank owners, a term dating back to the days of the wooden ships.
“I didn’t realize at first the significance of being a plank owner,” said McGrath. “Now, as I look around and see how every facet of our ship’s day-to-day operations were developed by the team, I understand why being a plank owner is a big deal.”
Chief Culinary Specialist (SS/DV) Ryan Christianson, who has served aboard PCU Mississippi since May 2011, echoed the commanding officer’s sentiment on the importance of serving as a plank owner in one’s naval career.
“It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me,” said Christianson. “It is truly special because not many others will have an opportunity to do this and set the initial standard for the rest of the future Mississippi Sailors to follow.”
PCU Mississippi joins historical company with the four previous ships that have shared the proud name of the state. Christianson reflected on the milestone event for the attack submarine and her crew.
“It is definitely significant to participate in this opportunity because it is a memory only the initial crew can share,” said Christianson.
The first Mississippi, a paddle frigate commissioned on Dec. 22, 1841, was the first ship of the United States to bear the name of the state Mississippi. The second Mississippi (BB 23), a 13,000-ton battleship, was launched on September 1905 and commissioned at Philadelphia Navy Yard on Feb. 1, 1908. The third Mississippi (BB 41), a New-Mexico class battleship, was commissioned in 1917 and served in the Pacific in World War II. The fourth Mississippi (CGN 40), a Virginia-class, nuclear powered guided-missile cruiser, was commissioned on Aug. 5, 1978 by then-President Jimmy Carter.
Mississippi, like all other Virginia-class submarines, is designed to dominate both the littorals and deep oceans. It will serve as a valuable asset in supporting the core capabilities of Maritime Strategy: Sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security and deterrence.
Naval Today Staff , May 28, 2012; Image: navy