The USS Colorado will hit the waves next fall, and a state booster committee says it's on its way to raising enough cash to properly celebrate the submarine's commissioning.
The Virginia-class attack submarine is expected to join the fleet in early 2017 after it is launched next year. The Colorado Commissioning Committee is working to raise $400,000 to buy amenities for the crew, establish a fund to help its sailors and throw a party in Connecticut to welcome the submarine to service.
"It is traditional for ships and submarines named after a state to form a bond with their state," said committee chairman retired Navy Capt. John Mackin.
This Colorado is the fourth ship named after the Centennial state. Colorados have sailed for the nation since 1856, when a three-masted frigate entered service.
Colorado has been without a boat to call its own since 1947, when a World War II-era battleship named for the state was retired. Mackin's committee is working to make up for the long hiatus.
The group has brought sailors from the submarine's crew to the state while their vessel is under construction.
Four Colorado sailors were honored on the field before a Dec. 13 Broncos game.
"The sailors know our state is behind them; it provides a little extra motivation," Mackin said.
The submarine will be one of the Navy's most advanced ships. In addition to traditional attack submarine roles of hunting down enemy craft, the 377-foot Colorado will have accommodations for Navy SEALs and carry Tomahawk cruise missiles that can strike targets at a distance of 900 miles.
The ship is a long way from going to sea, though. Sections of the hull are being pieced together at a shipyard.
"They're in the process of doing the welds to weld all those compartments together," Mackin said.
Mackin hopes to use the time before the commissioning to built up his commissioning fund.
Of the $400,000 goal, the group has come up with $60,000 and pledges for another $60,000, putting them just over a quarter of the way. The committee is soliciting donations at usscolorado committee.org.
Mackin said the donations will back a ship that will be a floating billboard for its namesake state.
"I'm sure it will sail all of the oceans of the world," he said.