US Navy christening two Virginia-class submarines in one day

The US Navy will christen two Virginia-class submarines in two separate ceremonies on Saturday, October 20.

The first ceremony starts at 10 a.m. EDT at Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, in Newport News, Virginia, where the future USS Delaware (SSN 791) will be christened.

Dr. Jill Biden, former second lady of the United States, will serve as the ship’s sponsor while United States Senator Tom Carper from Delaware will be the principal speaker.

The christening of future USS Vermont (SSN 792) is set to start an hour later, at 11 a.m. EDT, at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut.

The principal speaker will be Vermont Governor Phil Scott. Ms. Gloria Valdez, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Ships), will serve as the ship’s sponsor.

USS Delaware (SSN 791) is the 18th Virginia-class and final Block III submarine.

USS Vermont (SSN 792) is the first Block IV submarine in her class, being built under a 10-boat, $17.6 billion contract awarded to General Dynamics Electric Boat as prime contractor. Block IV Virginia-class submarines incorporate improvements that allow them to spend less time undergoing maintenance. Block IV boats are scheduled to undergo three major maintenance during their lifetime, compared to their predecessors’ four, enabling them to perform an additional deployment.

The future USS Delaware is the seventh ship to bear the name of “The First State.” The first Delaware served in the American Revolution, the second in the Quasi War with France. The third was burned to prevent her from falling into the hands of the Confederate Navy. The fourth served blockading duties through the end of the Civil War. Little is known about the fifth, other than she was a screw steamer that began life with another name before being renamed Delaware on May 15, 1869. The sixth Delaware was a battleship commissioned Apr. 4, 1910, that served in the Atlantic and Caribbean. During World War I, she provided convoy escort and participated in allied naval exercises. She was decommissioned Nov. 10, 1923.

SSN 791 began construction in September 2013 and will deliver in 2019.

The future USS Vermont is the third US Navy ship to bear the name of the “Green Mountain State.” The first Vermont was one of nine 74-gun warships authorized by Congress in 1816. The ship spent her early life laid up, but was put into service as a store and receiving ship during the Civil War. She continued in that service until struck from the Navy list in 1901. The second Vermont (Battleship No. 20) was laid down in May 1904 and commissioned March 4, 1907. She was a member of The Great White Fleet that conducted a world cruise during the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. Later she participated in the American occupation of Vera Cruz, Mexico. During World War I, she served as an engineering training ship before being converted to carry out her final missions as a troop transport, returning about 5,000 World War I U.S. service members from Europe. She was decommissioned June 30, 1920.

SSN 792 began construction in May 2014 and will deliver in the fall of 2019.

Photo: Vermont crew stands in front of the ship's bow. Photo: GDEB