Photo: USS Indiana christening ceremony

Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding on April 29 hosted the christening ceremony of Indiana (SSN 789), the U.S. Navy’s 16th Virginia-class submarine.

With a single swing, ship’s sponsor Diane Donald performed the traditional honor of breaking a bottle of American sparkling wine across the submarine’s hull. Donald is the wife of Adm. Kirkland Donald (U.S. Navy, Ret.), former director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion.

“It’s the honor of a lifetime to be here today,” said Donald. “While the size of the submarine alone is stunning, the complexity inside sets it apart from any other machine ever built. These ships are second to none, made in America by truly remarkable Americans.”

Vice President Mike Pence, former governor of Indiana, served as the ceremony’s keynote speaker.

Stackley spoke of the U.S. Navy’s important presence around the world. “More than a hundred U.S. Navy ships are underway, providing assurance to our allies, maintaining persistent surveillance in regions of interest, conducting special operations undetected, safeguarding the choke points of the world, standing poised to assure access to strike if necessary, and providing humanitarian relief if needed. And all the while, [Navy ships are] serving as the enduring, reliable deterrent that underpins our nation’s security.”

Speaking on behalf of the state of Indiana, Donnelly thanked the shipbuilders for their service to the U.S. Navy and the Indiana crew. “This crew is going to be at the very tip of the spear,” he said, “and you have given them the tools, the equipment, the ability to accomplish everything.”

About 4,000 Newport News shipbuilders have participated in Indiana’s construction in partnership with General Dynamics Electric Boat. Construction began in September 2012 and is about 90 percent complete. The submarine is on track to deliver to the Navy this year.