BURLINGTON, Vt. — U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus used Lake Champlain, with its history of a key naval battle in both the American Revolution and the War of 1812, as a backdrop Thursday to announce the naming of the USS Vermont, a nuclear attack submarine due to be built over the next several years.
The $2.7 billion fast-attack submarine should be ready to join the fleet by the end of the decade, Mabus said after the naming ceremony held with state and local officials and some Vermont veterans of the submarine service.
It will be the third U.S. Navy vessel to carry the name Vermont.
"It covers almost the entire history of our Navy," Mabus said of the other two USS Vermonts. The last Vermont was a battleship built in the early years of the 20th century. It was decommissioned in 1920.
The Vermont is one of 10 similar submarines the Navy ordered earlier this year for a total of $17.6 billion, the largest shipbuilding contract in Navy history. The Vermont will be built by Connecticut-based Electric Boat under a teaming agreement with Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia
"These are the most advanced submarines in the world," Mabus said while announcing the name. "And because of their stealth, they can be anywhere in the world."
Mabus said the nuclear-powered Vermont will be capable of performing a wide variety of missions — "everything from just doing patrols, to surveillance, to delivering special operations forces to doing some things I can't talk about,"
Construction is due to begin within a year, Mabus said.
The ceremony took place only miles from the October 1776 Battle of Valcour Island in which a fleet of the then-fledgling United States of America fought to a standstill a British force, preventing the British from driving south that fall, giving the Americans time to prepare for the attack that came the following year.
And it came a week after the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Plattsburgh, during the War of 1812. Some have called that naval battle the most significant of the war, during which the American fleet again defeated a larger British force attacking south out of Canada.
Murray Edelstein, of South Burlington, a submarine veteran from the late 1940s and early 1950s, attended the ceremony.
"It's a great feeling," Edelstein said when asked about seeing a new Navy vessel that will carry the name Vermont. "We're a small state."