First Lady to Be in Groton Saturday for Submarine Christening

First Lady Michelle Obama authenticates her initials that were welded onto the keel of Pre-Commissioning Unit Illinois (SSN 786), Jun. 2, 2014. (U.S. Navy photo)
First Lady Michelle Obama authenticates her initials that were welded onto the keel of Pre-Commissioning Unit Illinois (SSN 786), Jun. 2, 2014. (U.S. Navy photo)

GROTON -- First Lady Michelle Obama will be in Groton on Saturday to christen the Illinois (SSN 786), the Navy's newest and most advanced nuclear attack submarine.

Submarine builder Electric Boat and White House officials confirmed the first lady's visit early Monday evening.

As ship sponsor of Illinois, Michelle Obama will be at the center of Saturday's christening, a longtime Navy tradition, which will take place at Electric Boat's facilities in Groton. She joins Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton and other first ladies who have sponsored submarines.

An Illinois native, she also participated in the keel laying ceremony, which marks the ceremonial start of a submarine's construction, for the Illinois in June 2014. At that ceremony she said she had sponsored a U.S. Coast Guard cutter before, but this was different.

"I have heard that you all are some of the most skilled shipbuilders we have around, so I am confident that this is going to be an outstanding vessel," she said at the ceremony.

The $2.7 billion submarine is the 13th ship in the Virginia class and the third of the new Block III, which features a redesigned bow section. With its construction partner Newport News Shipbuilding, EB has delivered 12 Virginia-class submarines to the Navy; another nine are under construction.

The Illinois christening is by invitation only, but there will be a live video and audio webcast of the christening at www.ebchristenings.com. Coverage will begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday; the ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. The program will be available for on-demand replay for one week, beginning around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Show Full Article