KDSN RADIO News
USS Iowa's christening date is set for next month
The U-S Navy's newest submarine, a three-billion-dollar vessel named for the state of Iowa, will be christened next month in a formal event at the shipyard in Connecticut where it's being built. Tom Hudson, executive director of the U-S-S Iowa's commissioning committee, said the hour-long ceremony is when the 377-foot long warship will officially be named and it'll be ready for the first stage of duty.
"The christening marks a milestone of major construction completion," Hudson said, "and it's really the shipyard's acknowledgment that we're ready to put it in the water and start doing formal sea trials and testing and that kind of thing." The submarine's sponsor is former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack and she'll follow tradition during the christening by breaking a bottle of champagne over its bow. The sub will -not- immediately slide into the harbor, however.
"If the boat is out of the water sitting on blocks, which is what we suspect, she'll break the bottle, and then it'll be a week or two later that they'll physically put it into the water," Hudson said. "They no longer slide submarines down the gangway, down into the water like that. They no longer do that due to the way that the hull is designed. It's not stable enough to do that anymore." The submarine will have a crew of 120 enlisted personnel and 14 officers. The plan is for the crew to be between 20 and 40-percent female and the Iowa is the first American submarine built specifically for a coed crew. Hudson, who retired after 20 years as a Navy submariner, said the Iowa's commissioning is a ways off yet.
"The commissioning is typically nine to 12 months following the christening, and it's really dependent on sea trials and everything, going through the actual rigorous testing of being ready to be commissioned and become an active warship," Hudson said. "So we anticipate either early Q1 or most likely Q2, about this time next year." A special tribute to the Hawkeye State is taking shape that will offer poignant symbolism to tie the new vessel to its namesake.
"We've collected water from a variety of springs and natural lakes around the state of Iowa and we're in the process of shipping that water back to Connecticut right now," Hudson said. "Sometime in the next couple of weeks, we're going to have the captain of the submarine and a couple of the shipyard officials lifted up in a boom, up over the bow of that boat, and we're going to pour that water over that boat and actually anoint that submarine. So the first water that ever touches USS Iowa will be water from the state of Iowa." The christening is scheduled for 9 AM Central time on June 17th and multiple watch parties are planned in Iowa. The shipyard will also live-stream the event. Learn more at the USS Iowa Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/supportUSSIowaSSN797
(Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/supportUSSIowaSSN797)