Senior Navy leaders and shipbuilders gathered at General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, Connecticut, to attend a keel-laying ceremony for the future Virginia-class submarine USS Tang (SSN 805), Aug. 17.
The keel laying ceremony signifies a major milestone in the life of a ship as the ship transitions to reality. The future USS Tang will be a Block V submarine and the 32nd Virginia Class submarine.
During his remarks, Vice Adm. William Houston, Commander, Submarine Forces addressed the industrial team stressing the importance of their work.
“I look at you, the workers, who build these magnificent submarines and I just cannot thank you enough,” said Houston. “As a submarine force commander responsible for 25,000 Submariners, you give us the best platform to operate in the world.” Houston continued by underscoring the role shipyard workers hold in the defense industry. “You are contributing to an enterprise of defense of the greatest nation in the world in support of freedom and democracy throughout the world.”
In a time-honored Navy tradition, the submarine’s sponsor, Ms. Mimi Donnelly, in collaboration with a welder etched her initials onto a steel plate that will be installed on the submarine. The bond symbolizes the enduring relationship between the sponsor, the ship, and her crew.
Donnelly has a long history of volunteer service to the Navy community. She was awarded the Department of the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award for her leadership while serving as the President and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Dolphin Scholarship Foundation and as a Senior Advisor to the Submarine Officer Spouse Association.
“I am honored to recognize Ms. Donnelly, as well as the shipbuilders who are here today, to celebrate Tang’s keel laying as we look forward to a long life of service,” said Capt. Mike Hollenbach, Virginia-class program manager. “This is a significant milestone as the submarine begins to take shape in preparation for future delivery to the Fleet where she will enforce our freedom by deterring enemies, protecting our interests and underscoring our nation’s dominance of the seas.”
Tang is the third Navy submarine to be named for the regal blue surgeonfish, chosen in honor of the success both previous namesakes endured in battle.
The first Navy ship to bear the name Tang, SS 306, was commissioned in 1943 and is one of the most storied American submarines in history, with more than 30 enemy ships hit or sunk during battles in the Pacific theater. Tang (SS 306) received four battle stars and two Presidential Unit Citations for service during World War II, and its commanding officer received the Medal of Honor for the ship’s final heroic actions.
The second Tang, SS 563, was commissioned in 1951 and earned four battle stars for service in Vietnamese waters.
Tang will be the 32nd Virginia-class submarine. Boats in this class are the most advanced attack submarines in the world, with superior stealth, firepower and maneuverability than previous classes. They can hit shore-based targets with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and are capable of long-term, stealth surveillance of sea forces, littoral waters or ground targets. Their design also provides for special operation forces delivery and support, mine delivery and minefield mapping, and anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare. These capabilities allow the submarine force to contribute to regional stability and preservation of future peace while operating everywhere international law allows.