KANSAS CITY, Mo. (NNS) -- The Commander of Submarine Group 2 officially kicked off Kansas City Navy Week April 26 beginning a celebration that gives area residents an opportunity to meet Sailors and learn about the Navy's critical mission and broad-ranging capabilities.
Rear Adm. Michael McLaughlin serves as leading spokesperson for the event, which runs through May 2.
"There are actually 7,000 Sailors from Missouri serving the nation as we speak, and there are about 7,000 retirees in Missouri. So, even though Kansas City and the state are landlocked, there still is a deep tie to the Navy," said McLaughlin.
The Navy conducts about 20 Navy Weeks each year, reaching out to communities across the country to show Americans the investment they have made in their Navy. The Navy's precision flight demonstration team, The Blue Angels, will headline Kansas City Navy Week, performing at the Sound of Speed Air Show May 1 - 2.
As part of Navy Week events, McLaughlin will participate in a "Caps for Kids" visit at Children's Mercy Hospital and a presentation to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
While in Missouri, McLaughlin also worked to raise awareness about Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Missouri (SSN 780), the newest Virginia-class attack submarine. According to McLaughlin, it is important to establish a bond between the state and the submarine, which is scheduled to be commissioned July 31 during a ceremony at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn.
"The ship's crew absolutely loves feeling that pride of ownership that the people of Missouri have, and I think it really motivates the crew to do their job the very best that they can," added McLaughlin.
During his visit, McLaughlin has visited different parts of Missouri to discuss Navy Week and the submarine. In Jefferson City, he met with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who recounted that submarine Missouri is the fifth Navy vessel to be named in honor of the people of the "Show Me State." The last one was the legendary battleship USS Missouri, which was the site where Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and many other U.S. and Allied officers accepted the unconditional surrender of the Japanese at the end of World War II on Sept. 2, 1945.
"There are few ships that have served in World War II that are as well known as the Battleship Missouri - the Mighty Mo," Nixon beamed during a news conference in Jefferson City. "Now, the people in our state proudly anticipate the day when another ship christened the USS Missouri becomes part of the most-advanced, best-trained Navy in the world's history."
Prior to meeting with Gov. Nixon, McLaughlin spoke with submarine veterans, other veterans groups and the Navy League in Springfield. He also spoke to local business leaders during a luncheon, providing them with an update of the submarine force and thanking them "on behalf of our Sailors and their families for your continued support for all of us who wear the uniform. The conditions under which we live and serve is made better by your support and dedication to us."
In addition, McLaughlin met with members of the USS Missouri Commissioning Committee, an IRS-designated 501(c)3 nonprofit charity created to raise at least $300,000 to fund events surrounding Missouri's commissioning.
McLaughlin was also the guest speaker at the University of Missouri's Joint Reserve Officers Training Corps Awards Parade in Columbia.
When commissioned in July, Missouri will become the seventh Virginia-class submarine to join the fleet. Missouri is built to excel in anti-submarine warfare; anti-ship warfare; strike warfare; special operations; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions. Adept at operating in both the world's shallow littoral regions and deep waters, Missouri will directly enable five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities - sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence.
For more news from Commander Submarine Group 2, visit www.navy.mil/local/Subgru2/.