The USS Washington christened: Submariner compares it to taking out a new car

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WVEC) - The Secretary of the Navy’s daughter christened the first submarine to come out of Newport News Shipbuilding this year on Saturday. Following tradition, Elisabeth Mabus broke a bottle of American sparkling wine on the submarine bow.

It took her two tries to break the bottle, as hundreds of people watched the christening. “Thank you to the families,” said Mabus. “You are plankowners as well.” A plankowner is a member of the first crew aboard a ship.

The last ship with the USS Washington name was the battleship BB-56. That was decommissioned 70 years ago. The ship was the first ship with fully operational radar.

The submarine adds to the growing number of total Navy ships under contract. “It's ahead of schedule and on budget,” said Matt Mulherin, the president of Newport News Shipbuilding, referring to the submarine.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said that 41 ships were under contract in 2001, not enough to keep shipyards healthy, providing limited resources to the Navy. He continued to say 84 ships are now under contract, an increase from the past.

When ships are ready for the Navy, they are commissioned

For the future, Mabus said it is expected that 300 ships will be in commission by 2019.

So far there is no set date on the USS Washington commissioning ceremony

Petty Officer Andrew McCrary, who will go underway on the submarine, said he has worked on certain parts of the submarine that are closed up until it is decommissioned. “Seeing it all piece together was probably one of the coolest things,” he said. “I’m a mechanic so seeing this is pretty exciting. Being able to go on this and take it out on a first spin is like taking out a new car.”

Article by Lena Wallace, WVEC