April 12, 2022
WILMINGTON, Delaware – United States President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., and First Lady Jill Biden, the ship’s sponsor, celebrated the commissioning of the Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Delaware ( SSN 791) on Saturday April 2 at a ceremony in Wilmington, Delaware.
President Biden previously represented the state of Delaware for 36 years in the US Senate.
Due to COVID restrictions in place at the time, there was no traditional commissioning ceremony when the USS Delaware was administratively commissioned on April 4, 2020. On that day, the Deputy sailor was en route and became the first U.S. Navy ship commissioned while submerged.
Saturday’s ceremony followed the traditional commissioning script in all respects and was held in commemoration of the milestone event.
“This latest Navy ship to bear the Delaware name is part of a long tradition of proudly serving our nation and strengthening our nation’s security,” President Biden said. “Not just us, but also our allies and partners around the world.”
As the ship’s sponsor, Dr. Jill Biden performed the traditional honor of calling on the crew to pilot the ship and “bring it to life,” a ceremonial procession following the memorial setting of the first watch.
“This ship will always uphold the motto of the First State of ‘Freedom and Independence,'” she said. “It’s hard to put into words what it means to be part of the USS Delaware family. It’s an incredible honor that I take seriously. I’ve seen the hearts of this crew and it makes me proud and honored to be your shipmate for life.
USS Delaware is the 18th Virginia-class submarine built, as well as the eighth and final Virginia Block III-class submarine. Block III submarines are notable for replacing 12 vertical launch tubes for Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) with two larger 87-inch-diameter launch tubes capable of carrying larger payloads, among other advances.
“The men who serve – and will serve – aboard the USS Delaware will carry our state’s name for decades as they defend our nation,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, the event’s keynote speaker. . “Through their sacrifice and service, may we come ever closer to that more perfect union.”
The USS Delaware is based at New London Submarine Base in Groton, Connecticut, where it operates under the 12th Submarine Squadron and its commodore, Captain Matthew Boland.
“The sailors who power our submarine fleet are an elite breed,” Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro told those in attendance on Saturday. “They are competent, disciplined and determined. They make huge sacrifices, achieving incredible things on the horizon and under the waves.
Delaware Gov. John Carney, U.S. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, and Adm. Daryl Caudle, Commander of U.S. Fleet Force Command, was also among the distinguished guests present.
The submarine is the seventh U.S. Navy ship to bear the name of the first state, but the first in more than a century. The first ship to be named Delaware was a 24-gun frigate launched in July 1776, the month the Continental Congress passed the Declaration of Independence.
The most recent previous ship to bear this name was a battleship commissioned in 1910 and in service in the Atlantic during World War I.
Cmdt. Matthew Horton, commanding officer of SSN 791, told attendees Saturday that his submarine was following in the proud wake of battleship Delaware, which also visited the Port of Wilmington 112 years ago to celebrate its commissioning.
“This week we had the pleasure of sailing through the beautiful Delaware Bay and River, passing Fort Delaware, and continuing the tradition of Delaware warships calling on their namesake and showcasing our beautiful warship to the First State,” he said.
“The USS Delaware stands before you as the ideal vessel,” continued Horton. “Unlimited range; unmatched in power, accuracy and stealth. Her engineering makes her nearly undetectable; its sensors reveal the presence of any enemy. Able to dominate the entire spectrum of warfare, she excels in any mission given to her. From the depths of the ocean, ensure control of the sea, deliver precision strikes and support naval special warfare.
Fast attack submarines are multi-mission platforms enabling five of the Navy’s six core maritime strategy capabilities – sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security and deterrence. They are designed to excel in anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship warfare, offensive warfare, special operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, irregular warfare and mine warfare. Fast attack submarines project their power ashore with special operations forces and Tomahawk cruise missiles in the prevention or preparation for regional crises.
From Lt. Seth Koenig, Submarine Readiness Squadron (SRS) 32