GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- Marking Navy's 236th birthday, Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Mississippi (SSN 782) achieved another milestone as the Virginia-class submarine floated for the first time in its dock at General Dynamics Electric Boat Oct. 13.
Officially commemorating the event, Mississippi's ship sponsor Allison Stiller accepted Electric Boat's invitation to turn the controls to let the water flow to float the submarine.
"To witness Mississippi moving from the land where she's been built since Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industries first bent steel to begin her construction in February 2007, to the water, her permanent home, was truly exciting," said Stiller, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for Ship Programs. "I turned the valve to start the water flowing into the dry dock and around the hull of the boat, and Mississippi was floating. Now, the builders and crew are ready for the final push in the construction timeline."
In mid-August of this year, Stiller visited PCU Mississippi and her crew to check the progress of the Virginia-class submarine.
"I've been fortunate to be part of other milestones for Mississippi and her crew, my initials are on a metal plate welded inside the hull from the keel-laying ceremony in June 2010 and I visited with the wonderful officers and crew this past August to see how the boat was progressing," said Stiller. "Every time I see this boat, I am amazed again by the skilled work that goes into building such a complex fighting machine."
Cmdr. John McGrath, commanding officer, PCU Mississippi, emphasized teamwork was necessary to accomplish the submarine's latest milestone.
"This latest milestone could not have been possible without the close partnership and teamwork between the U.S. Navy and its shipbuilding partners," said McGrath. "Today's on schedule float off showcases how we continue to set the standard as the world's preeminent submarine force."
Virginia-class submarines are built under a unique teaming arrangement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industries - Newport News.
The contract to build Mississippi was awarded to Electric Boat Jan. 1, 2004. Construction began in Feb. 19, 2007. Mississippi is the fifth Navy vessel to carry the name of the Magnolia State.
Mississippi's christening ceremony is scheduled for Dec. 3, which is one step closer to her commissioning, scheduled for 2012.
For more news from Commander Submarine Group 2, visit www.navy.mil/local/Subgru2/.