Posted by: arbeam | November 26, 2014

Bremerton/Olympic Peninsula and Lake Washington Councils attend PCU Washington (SSN-787) Keel Laying

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Newport News, Virginia. “I hereby declare that the keel of the United States Navy submarine WASHINGTON has been truly and fairly laid.” With these words, Elisabeth Mabus, daughter of Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, and sponsor of Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) WASHINGTON (SSN 787), climaxed a time-honored traditional ceremony marking the start of construction of the 14th VIRGINIA class submarine. Representing the Navy League of the United States (NLUS) at the November 22nd Keel Laying Ceremony were Larry Salter, President of the Bremerton/Olympic Peninsula Council, and National Board of Directors member, Ken Sparks, of the Lake Washington Council.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, and his daughter Elisabeth, stand before the bow module of PCU WASHINGTON (SSN 787) shortly after the Keel Laying Ceremony held November 22nd at Huntington Ingalls Industries, Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia. The 25-year old sponsor was somewhat uncomfortable at the podium, explaining how it was a little odd to be standing in front of the crowd--usually she's listening to her father speak.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, and his daughter Elisabeth, stand before the bow module of PCU WASHINGTON (SSN 787) shortly after the Keel Laying Ceremony held November 22nd at Huntington Ingalls Industries, Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia. The 25-year old sponsor was somewhat uncomfortable at the podium, explaining how it was a little odd to be standing in front of the crowd–usually she’s listening to her father speak.

Salter is a member of the USS WASHINGTON Commissioning Committee, chaired by RADM Mike Sharp, USN (Ret), also of the Bremerton/Olympic Peninsula Council. While still in its infancy, the growing Commissioning Committee consists of a core steering committee centered in Bremerton, and will ultimately include participation from most Washington State NLUS Councils.

USS Washington CO COB

Navy Leaguer Larry Salter, President of the Bremerton/Olympic Peninsula Council (center) recently attended the November 22nd keel laying ceremony for the (PCU) WASHINGTON (SSN 787), the 14th VIRGINIA class submarine. Salter is shown here with the ship’s prospective Commanding Officer, CDR Jason “Jay” Schnieder (left), and Chief of the Boat, CMDCM(SS) Adam Burchette (right).

While attending the ceremony, Slater and Sparks met with the ship’s prospective Commanding Officer, CDR Jason “Jay” Schnieder, and Chief of the Boat, CMDCM(SS) Adam Burchette, who treated the Navy Leaguers to a tour of PCU WASHINGTON hull sections and other submarines in later stages of construction.

Salter recalls, “We were climbing up scaffolding and climbing over submarines—it was awesome! Much of the technology was way over the head of this MBA, but to see how they build submarines today was truly fascinating.” Salter was also able to meet many of the crew and address the crew at quarters.

With the advent of modular construction of the submarine’s cylindrical hull sections, the keel laying ceremony is truly symbolic in nature. Not only do the cylindrical submarines lack a traditional “keel” (single strength member running along the full length of the ship at its lowest point), but the modular hull sections are already almost 70% complete. The modular units are being assembled at Huntington Ingalls Industries, Newport News Shipbuilding.

USS Washington Logo

The NLUS-led Commissioning Committee will continue to support WASHINGTON throughout the construction process. The next event will be the Christening Ceremony in a little over a year, followed by the Commission Ceremony in late 2016. The Bremerton/Olympic Peninsula Council has also voted to adopt the ship following commissioning after it relocates to its new homeport in Pearl Harbor, HI. The Council currently supports Hawaii-based USS BREMERTON (SSN 698), the oldest submarine in the Fleet, scheduled to be inactivated shortly after WASHINGTON is commissioned.

For more information about joining the USS WASHINGTON Commissioning Committee, please contact board member Kevin Torcolini at ktorcolini@wavecable.com.

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