This week’s column is going to deviate a bit from its traditional Wall Street speak, but not to far.
Saturday, Sept. 7, at Naval Base Norfolk, Va., Pier 12, the Virginia-Class Submarine, USS Minnesota (SSN 783) was commissioned by the U.S. Navy. It was a clear and beautiful day in the lower Chesapeake Bay, that a 19 heavy gun salute shook the ground and the base’s piers as the blasts roared past the Minnesota, down a canyon created by the Nimitz-class carrier Theodore Roosevelt and the San Antonio-class transport, Arlington.
The ceremony was heavily clad with ancient and modern navy protocol and tradition.
Keynote speaker, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, spoke eloquently about the history of the first USS Minnesota; a wooden steam frigate launched in 1855 that played an important Civil War role at the Battle of Hampton Roads, just minutes from where today’s Minnesota rested. Ship sponsor, Ellen Roughhead, who christened the Minnesota late in October 2012, took part in the time-honored tradition when the crew is called on to “man the ship.”
According to Navy New London and Submarine Group Two Public Affairs, “Minnesota began construction in February 2008 and was built in Newport News, Va., under a teaming arrangement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries. The building team delivered the ship 11 months ahead of schedule in June. It achieved the highest readiness score of any Virginia-class submarine to date during an inspection by the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey.”
In attendance were three U.S. Senators, members of congress, Virginia state representatives, Minnesota legislators, Naval officers and sailors, business folks, family members and friends.
“The leaders and sailors already assigned to Minnesota have excelled,” according to Rear Admiral Ken Perry, commander, Submarine Group 2.
“Minnesota has done a superb job of readying the ship for service in the fleet as a commissioned warship. [Commanding Officer] Capt. John Fancher and his team have literally from stem to stern worked the combat systems, nuclear propulsion plant, logistics and culinary service.”
A big thanks goes to the Navy League of the United States, Twin Cities Council, Minnesota-based companies and private individuals that made the three days of tours, reception, naval briefings and amenities possible. Also a big hand goes out to the senior executives of General Dynamics Electric Boat, Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding and Lockheed Martin who all knocked out speeches that were as good as it gets.
As to American and our allies industrial might, the building and deploying of the world’s most advanced nuclear attack submarines is a true testimonial. Besides the two American general contractors General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls, there were legions of subcontractors, big and small, spread across this nation and others. For instance, the pump-jet propulsor, built by British Aerospace Systems, was originally designed for the Royal Navy’s Swiftsure class of subs. This propulsor is significantly quieter than the traditional bladed propeller used by previous subs.
Finally, one has to be in awe of the crew of the Minnesota. These folks have been a part of this sub for the last two years of its creation. The crew’s average age is 21 and there is no doubt they are ready to man this boat. The commissioning service was a proud day for the commander and crew of the Minnesota, the U.S. Navy and Americans in general.
Quote of the week: “There’s a very high demand signal on the attack submarine force from the combatant commanders. They require the key attributes of the attack submarines. They need that speed, they need the agility, they need the stealth, they need the endurance, and when necessary they need the firepower.” — Rear Admiral Ken Perry
Bart Ward is the chief executive officer of Ward & Co. Ltd., an Anoka-based registered investment adviser – specializing in the management of stock and bond portfolios in companies which are listed on the NYSE.