Watch: US Navy christens future USS Delaware, Jill Biden to serve as ship’s sponsor

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The Navy christened the attack submarine, the future USS Delaware (SSN 791), during a 10 a.m. ceremony Saturday at Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries.

The principal speaker was United States Senator Tom Carper from Delaware, and Dr. Jill Biden, former second lady of the United States, will serve as the ship’s sponsor, according to the Department of Defense. 

She christened the ship by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow and stating, “In the name of the United States, I christen thee,” following Navy tradition.

“Today’s christening marks an important milestone in the life of the future USS Delaware, moving the submarine from a mere hull number to a boat with a name and spirit,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “This submarine honors the contributions and support the state of Delaware has given to our military and will stand as a testament to the increased capabilities made possible through a true partnership between the Department of the Navy and our industry teammates.”

The future USS Delaware, designated SSN 791, will be the seventh ship to bear the name of “The First State.”

The DOD said the first Delaware served in the American Revolution, the second in the Quasi War with France.

Some of the Delaware-named ships even have more interesting stories. The third was burned because the Union Army did not want the ship to fall into the hands of the Confederate Navy. The fourth served blockading duties through the end of the Civil War. DOD says there isn’t a whole lot known about the fifth, other than she was a screw steamer that began life with another name before being renamed Delaware in 1869.

The sixth Delaware was a battleship commissioned 1910, serving in the Atlantic and Caribbean. Before being decommissioned 1923, the sixth Delaware was also used during World War I to provided convoy escort and participated in allied naval exercises.

The newest USS Delaware will give the Navy its 18th Virginia-class attack submarine and the eighth and final Virginia-class Block III submarine.

The future USS Delaware will be delivered to the Navy in 2019, according to the DOD. They say this delivery is almost five years in the making – workers started building the ship in September 2013.

The Virginia-class submarines can conduct anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface ship warfare; strike warfare; special operation forces support; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare and mine warfare missions.