GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- With the traditional first order "man our ship and bring her to life," Sailors assigned to USS Missouri (SSN 780) boarded the Virginia-class attack submarine during a commissioning ceremony at Naval Submarine Base New London July 31.
About 3,000 people from across the nation attended the ceremony at the submarine base, while others viewed it live on the internet. The submarine gleamed under the New England sun as family, crew members and veterans past and present lined the pier.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus reminded the crew of the versatility of their future missions.
"It may take you underneath the Arctic ice or the warm waters of the Indian Ocean," said Mabus.
Secretary Mabus also stressed the importance of the savings of the construction program, citing the submarine's early completion and delivery ahead of schedule.
"For every dollar we don't spend correctly, that's one less we have to defend the country," said Mabus.
Other speakers included Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, who noted Missouri "will deliver an outstanding return on the nation's investment."
Missouri will directly enable five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities - sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence.
Representative Ike Skelton of Missouri, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, was the keynote speaker.
"There is none better," said Skelton, referring to the submarine. "This amazing submarine and the other submarines of this class are vital to our national security. The simple reason is contained in one word: stealth."
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 in both the world's shallow littoral regions and deep waters.
At 377-feet long, Missouri is slightly longer than a football field. She has a 34-foot beam, will be able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and will operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged.
"Although her main goal is to prevent war, this vessel can in fact win a high intensity conflict once started," said Skelton.
Cmdr. Timothy Rexrode is the commanding officer of Missouri, the seventh ship of the Virginia-class.
The night before the commissioning, the USS Missouri (SSN 780) Commissioning Committee, in partnership with Grantham University, presented a full scholarship to a plank owner assigned to Virginia-class submarine Missouri.
Electrician's Mate 1st Class Joseph Amick was presented the four-year scholarship by retired Rear Adm. Karen Harmeyer, a member of the university's Board of Directors, during the commanding officer's reception hosted by the committee at the Mystic Marriott.
"This is a perpetual scholarship," said Harmeyer. "There will always be one scholarship available to a member of USS Missouri's crew. What better way to grow our leaders of tomorrow."
The scholarship can be used to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree at Grantham and includes tuition costs, required textbooks and software, and a laptop computer.
Amick said he plans to get started right away.
"I'm a little overwhelmed right now," he said. "I never thought I would be selected for this amazing opportunity."
Amick acknowledged he felt eager and motivated.
"I feel like I need to complete this early," he said. "There are so many other deserving crew members that could also use this."
In addition, Harmeyer said the university is donating five additional laptops loaded with selected courses from Grantham for general crew use. Any crew member who completes the courses could opt to enroll at Grantham to receive credit.
Missouri, which completed sea trials in early July, arrived at Naval Submarine Base New London July 22 in preparation for commissioning following a material readiness inspection by the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) team. INSURV is a survey team established by Congress to assess Navy surface ships, aircraft carriers and submarines and ensure they are properly equipped for prompt, reliable and sustained mission readiness at sea.
Construction on Missouri began in December 2004; the submarine's keel was authenticated during a ceremony on Sept. 27, 2008 at the Electric Boat facility in North Kingstown, R.I.; and, she was christened during a late morning ceremony at Electric Boat on Dec. 5, 2009.
Another milestone occurred on April 16 during "In Service Day," when crew members moved aboard the submarine, bringing her systems to life, beginning general day-to-day operations and preparing for sea-trials, work-ups and commissioning.
Rexrode leads a crew of about 134 officers and enlisted personnel. A native of Spencer, W.Va., Rexrode graduated with honors in 1990 from West Virginia University, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. In addition, Rexrode is a distinguished graduate of the United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College, holding as Master's in Military Studies. He also received a Master's of Arts degree in Administration from Central Michigan University.
Becky Gates, wife of U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, serves as the submarine's sponsor. She broke the traditional champagne bottle against the boat's sail during the christening ceremony last December. Her initials were welded into a plaque inside the boat during last year's keel laying ceremony.
Missouri is the fifth Navy ship to be named in honor of the people of the "Show Me State." The last USS Missouri, the legendary battleship, 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.
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.
The 7,800-ton submarine Missouri is being built under a teaming arrangement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-Newport News. At 377-feet long, Missouri is slightly longer than a football field. She has a 34-foot beam, will be able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and will operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged. Missouri is designed with a nuclear reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs and increasing underway time.
The USS Missouri Commissioning Committee, an IRS-designated 501(c)3 nonprofit charity, was created to increase awareness of the submarine's commissioning. The Commissioning Committee offers information about the development of the submarine, as well as history on former Navy ships named for the "Show Me State."
Grantham University was founded in 1951 by Mr. Donald Grantham, a veteran of World War II, to help prepare veterans for new jobs in the electronics' industry and a better future upon their return to civilian life. Today, the University supports thousands of online students in 36 different associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs.
For more news from Commander Submarine Group 2, visit www.navy.mil/local/Subgru2/.