It’s an honor to join you here today to christen this remarkable feat of engineering. This is a great day for the Navy, the United States, and our allies and friends.
July 11, 1987….33 years ago - as a young Lt Cmdr I was assigned to Group TWO in Groton, CT, to support the public affairs effort in a commissioning ceremony for USS Helena. It was then that I realized the significance and impact these ceremonies have on all that are involved in the life of a Navy ship.
It’s a privilege to help mark the transition of a vessel from a mere hull number to a submarine with a name and spirit. And, it’s a very special honor to once again have the opportunity to join the people of Montana to christen another boat representing your great state.
The USS Montana will enhance our fleet with next generation stealth, surveillance and special warfare capabilities. It sends a signal to friend and foe alike that we will maintain supremacy under the waves, and extend our lethality and readiness in every domain.
This powerful platform is proof of the ironclad relationship between the Navy and the industrial partners who form the backbone of our maritime strength. When it joins the fleet, USS Montana will extend the reach and strength of our force, with the ability to respond to great power challenges with the full might of American ingenuity and partnership.
Admiral Rickover, father of the Nuclear Navy, once said:
“The Devil is in the details, but so is salvation.”
Well it’s the details that brought us here today, and the details speak to the laser focus of every engineer, technician, builder and sailor who had a hand in the production and launch of this next generation platform. The USS Montana embodies all of the strengths that power our Navy – our people, capabilities and processes.
Let me begin by discussing the capabilities. The USS Montana can attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles. It can conduct covert long-term surveillance of the land, the littorals and the sea. It elevates our anti-submarine and anti-ship power. It gives us an edge in mine delivery and detection. It extends the global reach of our special forces.
The attention to detail that has gone into the design and production of the reactor plant would have instilled Admiral Rickover with pride. The reactor, which will last the life of the submarine, will reduce costs and increase time underway, extending the reach of our Navy and the readiness of our nation.
The USS Montana also demonstrates the power of our processes. As a continual learning enterprise, the Navy must have the processes in place to incorporate the operational needs of the fleet as well as the strategic demands of the National Defense Strategy. Each new platform must be forged by the sea, with the specifications of the next generation building on the experiences of the last.
And that’s what we’ve done here. The Virginia Class submarines have been developed using a Block Upgrade philosophy, where each contract block incorporates design improvements and cost efficiencies learned from the experiences of the one before it.
While this submarine has the capacity to project power ashore, on the surface and under the sea, it is important to recognize the people involved at every stage of bringing this ship to life, because it is our people who make all the difference. The USS Montana is proof of what the teamwork of all of our people – civilian, contractor and military – can accomplish together.
I also want to congratulate the Montana Commissioning Committee. I’ve had the pleasure to be a member of the submarine USS Oklahoma City Commissioning Committee in 1987 and fully understand and appreciate the time, commitment, and resources you’ve dedicated to support the crew for this event and the upcoming commissioning ceremony.
And I want to thank the sponsor of USS Montana, former Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. There’s a special bond that’s created when a sponsor brings a ship to life, a connection that endures throughout the life of the ship and all who sail her.
And I know through the personal involvement and care Secretary Jewell has shown for this undertaking, the Montana spirit will always live on throughout the many challenges and missions of the USS Montana. Even when its crew can’t see the sky at all, the Big Sky country will always be with her.
And I want to extend a special word of thanks to our sailors – those who will someday sail USS Montana – and their families.
I recognize the extreme demands that submarine service can place on both the sailor and the family, and I stand with our nation in gratitude for your service.
So, to everyone here, thank you for everything you’ve done to make this day a reality. Bravo Zulu to you all, and to the future USS Montana, fair winds and following seas at all times. Thank you.
The Honorable Gregory J. Slavonic
12 September 2020
04 December 2020
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