Pictured above a nuclear-powered, Virginia-class submarine. The future USS Idaho (SSN 799) is this class of ship and when it is christened in 2023, it will be the fifth U.S. naval vessel named after the Gem State. Monday, the keel-laying ceremony was held for the new ship.
Last week, Commander Nicholas Meyer assumed command as the ship's first skipper. He will lead a crew of 135. Three members of the crew are native Idahoans.
The ship is being built by General Dynamics Electric Boat. Monday morning at the company's hull fabrication facility in Rhode Island, there was a keel-laying ceremony for the submarine.
"In the days of the wooden ships the start of construction was marked by the laying of the first timber, the backbone of the vessel," says Electric Boat President Kevin Graney. "We maintain that tradition today, modified to reflect our current manufacturing methods in the cylindrical shape of modern submarines."
Former Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne was in attendance. He comments on the significance of Idaho's rich naval contribution from World War II through today.
"Over 40,000 sailors received their nuclear training at the prototype facility in Idaho Falls." He continues, "More recently, much of the acoustic technology on the future USS Idaho was developed on Lake Pend Oreille at the Navy Research Center in Bayview, Idaho."
It's that contribution to naval excellence that has the ship's sponsor, Mrs. Teresa Stackley (wife of former acting Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley), excited to be apart of the project.
"In the century since the keel was laid for the battleship USS Idaho [commissioned in 1919 and the last ship to carry the state's name], a ship famous for her service in World War II [played a significant role in the Battle of Iwo Jima], the State of Idaho has been home to thousands of sailors and engineers who have trained in the operations and advanced the design of our nuclear submarines."
Along with former Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne, the three native Idahoans who will serve aboard the ship were in attendance at Monday's ceremony.