The U.S. Navy on Saturday christened one of its newest Virginia-class attack submarines, the future USS Hyman G. Rickover, in honor of the “Father of the Nuclear Navy.”

The ceremony marked the first submarine christening at the General Dynamics-Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s also the second submarine to be named after Rickover, the late four-star Navy admiral who served 63 years in the Navy on active duty. His team of engineers designed and constructed the first nuclear-powered submarine, the Nautilus.

The first Hyman G. Rickover was commissioned at Submarine Base, New London, in Groton, on July 21, 1984.

Undersecretary of the Navy James F. Geurts said construction of the new submarine during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a testament to the dedication of America’s shipbuilders and sailors.

“We did not close a shipyard, public or private, for one day during the pandemic,” Geurts said. “The sustained commitment to excellence displayed by this workforce shows in the construction of this boat and adheres to the culture of excellence promoted by Hyman G. Rickover.”

Construction of the Navy’s 22nd Virginia-class submarine began in September 2015.

Electric Boat President Kevin Graney said despite the pandemic, shipbuilders at the company’s Quonset Point facility in North Kingston, Rhode Island, constructed the engine room deck in 12,000 fewer hours than five previous ships, The Day of New London reported. Also, the welded pipe joints were completed in Groton earlier than two previous ships.

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