Diane Donald, sponsor of the Virginia-class submarine Indiana (SSN 789) and wife of Adm. Kirk Donald (U.S. Navy, Ret.), smashes a bottle of wine across the Indiana's hull to christen the sub, while Vice President Mike Pence looks on.
Story and photos by John Crosby
The American Legion, Department of Indiana
NEWPORT NEWS, Va., – The USS Indiana, a Virginia-class fast attack nuclear powered submarine was christened during a ceremony held with Vice President Mike Pence, Senator Joe Donnelly, and the Honorable Sean Stackley, acting secretary of the Navy, in attendance at the shipyard of Huntington Ingalls Newport News, Va.
The American Legion, Department of Indiana was represented by Cmdr. James B. May, attending the weekend’s events and learning how the Hoosier state can support the USS Indiana and her crew in the future.
“Our Legion Family in Indiana have an opportunity to adopt the USS Indiana, and her the men and women who serve aboard her,” said May.
The time-honored tradition of becoming an honorary plank owner gives Hoosiers the opportunity to contribute to the U.S. Navy’s newest submarine, named after the great State of Indiana, as she represents all Hoosiers all over the world.
“I encourage you all to visit USSIndiana.org to learn more about how you can support,” said May. “Let’s show the United States Navy and the sailors aboard the USS Indiana some Hoosier veteran hospitality.”
Construction on the USS Indiana began in 2012, with 4,000 shipbuilders participating. The U.S. Navy's 16th Virginia-class, fast attack submarine is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy later this year.
The Virginia-class submarines’ nuclear reactor fuels the 7,800-ton and nearly 380-foot-long boat throughout its planned life so it will never require refueling. It will be capable of attacking targets ashore with Tomahawk cruise missiles and can conduct covert, long-term surveillance of land, said the Navy.
The Navy said the submarine will help the U.S. maintain its undersea superiority well into the 21st century.
"The christening of the future USS Indiana brings this technological marvel one step closer to joining the world's preeminent submarine force," said the Honorable Sean Stackley, acting secretary of the Navy. "Thanks to the hard work, dedication and unparalleled skill of our nation's shipbuilders, who continue to produce the finest submarines in the world, our Navy will continue to dominate the undersea domain long into the future."
Pence delivered the ceremony’s principal address for the christening of the USS Indiana, named for his home state.
“This submarine is the most advanced to ever serve America,” said Pence. “The steel within her skeleton -- all 7,600 tons -- and the steel in the hearts of her crew form the unbreakable, unshakeable backbone of American freedom.
“When the USS Indiana goes to sea in just a few short weeks, she’ll give witness to our country’s strength of will and to our strength of arms.”
The ceremony took place one day shy of the 75th anniversary of the dedication and christening of the last USS Indiana, a battleship that saw heavy action throughout WWII. In fact, the USS Indiana is the third U.S. Navy warship to be named after the 19th state.
The first USS Indiana, BB-1, was the lead ship of her class and the first battleship in the U.S. Navy, commissioned in 1895. The 23rd President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison of Indiana, attended her launch with 10,000 others at Indiana’s She served in the Spanish – American War in 1898 part of the North Atlantic Squadron and contributed to sinking Spanish Destroyers Plutón and Furor.
The second ship to be named after the Hoosier State, USS Indiana BB-58, a South Dakota-class battleship was commissioned in 1942. The ceremony was attended by The American Legion, the organization was just 23 years old then. USS Indiana BB-58 earned nine battle stars for her service in WWII. She took part in the largest carrier air battle in history, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, later called the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot after U.S. forces sank three Japanese aircraft carriers and shot down nearly 400 war planes. She later saw action at Iwo Jima and provided aid to the ground campaign while repelling Kamikazes during the invasion of Okinawa.
To learn more about the USS Indiana and to support her and her crew, visit USSIndiana.org.
Together, we change lives for Veterans, their families and their communities.
Tell us Your Story