NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- The Navy celebrated the keel laying of Pre-Commissioning Unit Minnesota at Huntington Ingalls Industries - Newport News Shipbuilding (HII-NNS) in Newport News, Va., May 20.
In a time-honored Navy tradition, ship sponsor Ellen Roughead, wife of Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, had her initials welded onto a steel plate that will be permanently affixed to Minnesota's hull. Mrs. Roughead, a former educator, has been a tireless supporter of military families and continuing education initiatives for Navy spouses.
"We are honored to have Mrs. Roughead as Minnesota's sponsor," said Capt. Michael Jabaley, Virginia-class program manager. "The keel laying marks the beginning of a special relationship between Mrs. Roughead, this submarine, and her crew. Her dedication and support of our Sailors and their families is admirable and will pay dividends for the submarine force for years to come."
Minnesota's keel-laying is the submarine's first major event since it began construction in February 2008; the submarine is on track to continue the Virginia-class program's trend of early deliveries.
"Our shipbuilding partners have done an outstanding job of reducing the amount of time it takes to deliver these much-needed platforms," said Rear Adm. David Johnson, program executive officer for submarines. "Their hard work and ingenuity have helped put Virginia-class submarines with their tremendous capabilities into the hands of the submarine force at an increasing rate."
Minnesota is the tenth submarine of the Virginia class and the last of the second, or Block II, construction contract. The submarine, like all Virginia-class boats, is being built under a unique construction contract between HII-NNS and General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB).
In addition to Minnesota's keel laying, the Virginia Class program will celebrate PCU California's (SSN 781) commissioning in October and PCU Mississippi's (SSN 782) christening in December. Also, for the first time in 22 years, the Navy will begin construction of two submarines of the same class in the same year when the unnamed SSN 787 officially starts construction in September.
Virginia-class submarines are designed to dominate the world's littoral and deep waters while conducting anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface ship warfare; strike warfare; special operation forces support; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions. Their inherent stealth, endurance, mobility, and firepower directly enable them to support five of the six Maritime Strategy core capabilities - sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence.
For more news from Naval Sea Systems Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/navsea/.