The crest of the attack submarine North Dakota, which will be christened Saturday. (Jeremiah Minner via Wikimedia)
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The Navy will christen its newest Virginia-class attack submarine, the North Dakota, on Saturday at a ceremony in Groton, Conn.
The submarine will be the fleet’s 11th Virginia-class boat, and the second Navy vessel to be named after North Dakota, when it’s commissioned in 2014, according to a Navy news release.
Vice Adm. Michael Connor, head of Submarine Forces, will deliver the keynote address Saturday at the General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard in Groton. Katie Fowler, wife of sponsor and former Naval Academy superintendent retired Vice Adm. Jeff Fowler, will break the traditional bottle of Champagne against a plate welded to the hull, the release said.
“The work of the more than a thousand shipyard craftsmen and engineers who built this boat has helped make the fleet stronger and our nation safer,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in the Navy release. “Their dedication and expertise has the world’s most advanced submarine on track to deliver in early 2014, giving the North Dakota the shortest construction span of any Virginia-class submarine to date.”
The submarine, designated SSN 784, weighs 7,800-tons, is 377 feet long with a 34-foot beam, and once submerged can move at more than 25 knots. Its built-in reactor plant won’t need refueling throughout the ship’s planned lifespan.
The first North Dakota, a Delaware-class battleship, entered service in 1910 and was decommissioned in 1923 before being sold for scrapping in 1931, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command website.
The Navy’s official website, www.navy.mil, is scheduled to air a live webcast of the event, beginning at 11 a.m. Eastern.