By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW) Kevin S. O’Brien
, Secretary of the Navy Public
The Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV), Donald C. Winter
, came aboard USS Virginia (SSN 774) and spent the day touring the ship and meeting the crew.
This was Winter's first underway visit aboard a Virginia-class submarine.
Winter's message to the ship's Sailors was one of thanks for their commitment and contribution to the nation's defense during his day-long visit.
"First, I would like to thank all of you for your diligence and hard work. This is always a treat for me to come and visit the Sailors in the fleet," Winter said. "Your continued effort is appreciated by me and the entire nation."
Winter also awarded and pinned two Sailors for achieving their submarine warfare qualification. To earn the right to wear the pin, submariners complete an extensive qualification process that lasts about one year and covers virtually all of the submarine's systems.
Following the award ceremony, Sailors were given the opportunity to ask Winter questions and voice concerns they have about the Navy.
Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Jason Garvin asked
what incentives are being discussed to ensure high-retention rates for nuclear-rated Sailors.
"I will be visiting members of Congress very soon," Winter said. "One of my priorities is to guarantee retention bonuses are awarded to the nuclear communities."
In addition, Winter talked about the importance of Sailor's families.
"I will speak to Congress about
making sure families are taken care of. While Sailor's are deployed, families need to know that they are supported and benefits such as child care are assured," said Winter.
Virginia is the first submarine of the nuclear-powered Virginia
-class. She is 377 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 34 feet, a navigational draft of 32 feet, and displaces approximately 7,800 tons submerged. She can dive to depths greater than 800 feet, and can sustain speeds of more than 25 knots when submerged.