GROTON, Conn. — The Navy’s newest nuclear-powered attack submarine was christened Saturday at a Connecticut shipyard, a $2.7 billion vessel packed with the latest war-fighting technology.
The Vermont was christened at Electric Boat, the Groton-based contractor that builds attack submarines with Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.
Vermont is the 19th vessel in the Virginia class of submarines, which are equipped with torpedoes and missiles and designed to carry out a wide range of missions, including surveillance work and the delivery of Special Operations forces.
The submarine’s sponsor is Gloria Valdez, who retired recently as a deputy assistant secretary of the Navy overseeing all naval shipbuilding programs. She said met with the crew and their families back in June and predicted they will make the technologically advanced submarine “extraordinary.” She later used a bottle of sparkling wine made from Vermont apples form the Putney Mountain Winery in Vermont to officially christen the vessel.
The vessel, which will carry a crew of more than 130 officers and enlisted sailors, is 377 feet long with a hull diameter of 34 feet and will displace 7,800 tons. It is expected to be delivered to the Navy early next year.
Two other Navy ships have carried the name of the Green Mountain state.
"Though the oceans are absent from Vermont, Vermont has never been absent from the seas," said Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican.
The first Vermont was a warship laid down at the Boston Navy Yard in 1818 and launched in 1848. It served out of South Carolina during the Civil War and then transferred to New York where it served as a store and receiving ship.
The second Vermont was a battleship commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard in 1907. It was part of President Theodore Roosevelt's "Great White Fleet" and visited ports around the world. For most of World War I, the ship served as an engineering training ship in the Chesapeake Bay region. It also served as a troop transport to bring soldiers back to the U.S.
Connecticut officials spoke of the recent job growth at EB. Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, whose district includes the Groton shipyard, said a new generation has taken up the challenging of building submarines.
"Not only is EB's ranks growing, it is also changing," he said, adding how 60 percent of the workforce has been with the company for five or years or less. "It's an amazing changing of the guard as EB brings on board a younger and more diverse workforce."
EB anticipates adding roughly 1,900 workers at its Groton facility, for a total of more than 13,000 employees by 2034. In Rhode Island, EB anticipates adding at least 1,300 new jobs over the next decade, bringing the total workforce at Quonset Point to 6,000.
Vermont U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, a Democrat, said the vessel is vitally important to the strategic defense of the U.S. But that’s not all, he said.
“There’s something more important than this boat that this nation needs,” he said. “That is, the mutual respect that every person involved in this project has.”