Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States, will join General Dynamics Electric Boat this weekend to christen the United States Navy’s 13th Virginia-class attack submarine, Illinois.
The Illinois (SSN-786) is the newest and most advanced nuclear attack submarine. Mrs. Obama is listed as the ship’s sponsor, and participated in laying the keel last year.
The sub will join twelve other ships in the Virginia class, a group that was designed to be the first post-Cold War combatants. These Virginians are designed to be quite versatile, by being able to wage multi-dimensional warfare all over the world. It has been known to be involved in special operations dealing with reconnaissance, surveillance, intelligence, and operation forces support. It is connected with land, sea, air, and space-based assets.
The sub itself has a displacement of 7,800 tons, hull length of 377 feet, and a diameter of thirty-four feet. It can reach a cruising speed of twenty-five knots, and go 800 feet below the surface. The weapons it uses include Mark 48 advanced capability torpedoes, Tomahawk land attack missiles, Mark 60 CAPTOR mines, advanced mobile mines, and unmanned underwater vehicles.
The ceremony will begin 11 a.m. eastern time on Saturday, with streaming coverage set to begin half an hour prior. If you’re unable to catch the event live, it will be available on-demand a couple hours after the ceremony ends, for one week. The ceremony is not open to the public - only an invitation will get you in.
Electric Boat is a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics. There are nine more Virginia-class subs currently under construction, awaiting to join the other thirteen. They signed a $14 billion contract in December of 2008, plus a $17.6 billion extension in 2014 to supply these submarines in conjunction with Huntington Ingalls-Newport News Shipbuilding.
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