Navy Takes Delivery of USS Minnesota, Months Early

The USS Minnesota, the Navy's newest attack submarine, was delivered Thursday to the military nearly 11 months ahead of schedule, the vessel's builder announced.

Construction of the Minnesota by Huntington Ingalls Industries at the company's Newport News (Va.) shipbuilding division began in February 2008. It was christened on Oct. 27, 2012, and is scheduled for commissioning on Sept. 7. Its home port will be in Groton, Conn.

"This is a success story of the teamwork between the crew and shipbuilder," said John Fancher, the Minnesota's commanding officer. "The team reached the finish line together with quality craftsmanship by the shipbuilder, coupled with a crew that was given the opportunity to train as necessary to operate the submarine to its fullest extent during the combined trials."

A crew of 134 officers and enlisted personnel will operate the $2 billion, 7,800-ton, 377-foot-long Virginia-class submarine. It is capable of diving deeper than 800 feet and operating at speeds in excess of 25 knots (more than 28 mph) when submerged. The Minnesota is designed with a nuclear reactor that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship.

Ellen Roughead, wife of former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead and a Minnesota native, served as ship's sponsor and broke a champagne bottle against a plate welded to the hull in the christening.

The last naval ship named after Minnesota was decommissioned in 1921, but there were others in the fleet with Minnesota connections. The USS Minneapolis-St. Paul submarine was decommissioned in August 2008.

The Minnesota is built to excel in anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship warfare, strike warfare, special operations, surveillance, irregular warfare and mine warfare missions. The Navy said it is capable of operating in both shallow regions and deep waters.

The Minnesota's logo features a Viking whose helmet has a glistening North Star, a walleye on the hull of the submarine and the Latin inscription, "From the North, Strength."

The logo was designed by Jakob Bartels, 18, of Roseville, who was awarded a $1,500 college scholarship and an all-expense-paid trip to the commissioning ceremony.

Bartels has a relative who designed the flag for the Continental Navy in the Revolutionary War, as well as a relative who served on the USS Minnesota (a steam frigate) in the Civil War. His father flew Army helicopters in the first Gulf War.

-- Star Tribune staff writer Mark Brunswick contributed to this report.

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