First Lady Laura Bush smashed a bottle of champagne to christen the Navy’s newest nuclear-powered submarine Texas (SSN 775) in front of a cheering crowd of 4,500 people at Newport News shipyard July 31.
Secretary of the Navy Gordon
England joined a number of dignitaries, including Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison
of Texas, who delivered the ceremony’s principal address.
“It is entirely fitting that USS Texas will
become the latest bulwark, and one of the most powerful, in our arsenal of democracy,” said Hutchison. “When she sets sail, she will do so with 22 million Texans and our nation’s First Lady at her side. Mr. Secretary, it doesn’t get any better than that!”
Named to honor the 28th state admitted to the union, Texas is the fourth ship of the U.S. Navy to carry the name since the original Texas was commissioned in 1895. It is the second submarine of the Virginia class, and the first submarine of its class to be built at Newport News.
Texas will be able to attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters or other sea forces. Texas will also have a number of additional capabilities, to include superior anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare enhancements, special forces delivery and support, and mine delivery/minefield mapping. With enhanced communications connectivity, the submarine also will provide important strike group and joint task force support, with full integration into carrier strike group operations.
“It’s the first submarine - first major naval weapon system of any kind - designed for the post-Cold War,” said Cmdr. John J. Litherland, the ship’s prospective commanding officer. “She adds significant new capabilities in the areas of Special Warfare, sensors and information processing that will allow her to serve on the front lines for decades to come.”
The ceremony marked the first christening of a submarine at the shipyard since 1995 when USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) was launched.