By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Rebekah Blowers
, Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs
Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Gary Roughead visited
New London Naval Submarine Base and General Dynamics (GD)
' Electric Boat facility in Groton, Conn. on Feb. 21.
During the visit, Roughead flooded the graving dock at the shipyard facility allowing Pre-commissioning Unit New Hampshire (SSN 778), the fifth Virginia
-class submarine, to be "launched" when it touched water for the first time.
Trips such as these allow CNO to see first-hand the design and manufacture of new ships and submarines. This was the latest in a series of visits to public and private shipbuilding facilities and will serve to inform the CNO's decision making as he builds the fleet of the future.
"To me the submarine is the ultimate stealth weapon that we have and the capabilities that you bring are absolutely critical. That's why it was important for me to come down and visit the shipyard here where we're building the future," Roughead said.
Also on the trip, he held all hands calls with more than 1,200 Sailors. Roughead spoke to the Sailors about the rapid rise of submarine production among many of the world's maritime nations, making new submarines essential for the Navy.
"The importance of the Virginia-class program to our Navy is absolutely critical. I'm pleased that in 2011 we will be able to get two boats a year, we will be able to start going down that path," CNO said.
As important as the submarines are to the Navy, Roughead stressed the value of the Sailors who operate them.
"The submarines that you operate and support…are among the most technologically advanced and most capable systems that
we have, not just in the United States Navy
…but in any military in the world," Roughead said.
Roughead said the visit was a valuable way for him to get a sense of how the Navy is meeting his priorities of current readiness, building a future force and taking care of Sailors, Navy civilians
and their families.