GALVESTON, Texas (NNS) -- The Island of Galveston, Texas, welcomed to its shores some new faces and the Navy's newest undersea vessel Sept. 4.
USS Texas (SSN 775) arrived in Galveston to a warm Texas-style reception, complete with Houston Texans cheerleaders and the Invincible Eagle Band from Liberty, Devers and Lumberton, Texas, playing "Deep In the Heart of Texas."
Capt. John J. Litherland, Texas commanding officer, said the crew has been ready for their arrival in Galveston since they left Norfolk, Va., in late August.
"We've been very anxious and excited to bring the Texas to Texas," said Litherland. "We have 150 of the finest young Americans you could ever meet on this boat and we're just happy to be here."
Galveston's mayor, Lyda Ann Thomas, said it was great day for the city of Galveston.
"Someone said we were going to get a healthy dose of the Navy this week. Well, I'm looking forward to it, and from now on, Sept. 4, 2006, will be known as USS Texas Day in the city of Galveston," she said.
She also presented Litherland and the crew with the key to the city of Galveston.
"It doesn't really unlock any hidden treasures, but it will guarantee we'll welcome you and your crew with open arms any time you're here," said Thomas.
Lt. Cmdr. Al Onley Jr., Texas executive officer and native of Greenville, Texas, said the experience was like a dream come true.
"I grew up here," he said. "I never dreamed of traveling by the beaches I grew up on, on a submarine, especially one named Texas. It's been a great experience already."
Onley also appreciated the warm welcome the crew received upon arrival to the Port of Galveston.
"This reception is outstanding. I told the crew while coming in that Texas would give us a warm, big welcome, and they did," he said.
The commissioning ceremony Sept. 9 will make Texas the second operational Virginia-class submarine in the fleet following in the footsteps of USS Virginia (SSN 774).
The Virginia-class is the newest class of fast-attack submarines, cooperatively built by General Dynamics Electric Boat and Northrop Grumman Newport News. The partnership has produced both Virginia and Texas.
The Virginia-class submarine is the first designed after the Cold War, specifically for the challenges of the 21st century. Its features will enable the ship to work effectively in shallow, near-shore waters, and to support Special Operations forces.
Litherland said the commissioning of Texas will culminate almost four years of preparation to make the boat mission ready.
"Many Sailors join the Navy to see the world, but for the last four years, about all we've seen is the inside of a shipyard," he said. "It's with no small amount of excitement or anticipation that we broke her out of the shipyard, took her out to sea, and proved that she worked last Spring. Now, when we're finished here, we'll be ready to see the world."
For more news from around the fleet, visit www.navy.mil.