First Lady Michelle Obama is visiting Electric Boat in Groton to christen the USS Illinois, the U.S. Navy's newest submarine, which is also named after her home state.
"I couldn’t be more excited to be here to christen the ILLINOIS -- my home state," the First Lady said. "The entire experience of serving as your sponsor has been beyond meaningful, and so fascinating. I’ve learned so much about the incredible power and technology of this submarine. And I’ve been awed by the extraordinary skill and character of those who will operate it"
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) thanked the First Lady for sponsoring the ship and said "it's always a pleasure to host her in Connecticut."
“For me, today’s celebration was about the thousands of Connecticut shipyard workers and engineers who made the christening of the USS Illinois possible. Back in April, I got to work a full shift on the job with Electric Boat’s electricians, welders, and quality control managers as they built the USS Illinois. The men and women of this amazing shipyard build the best submarines in the world," Murphy said. “Connecticut has always been on the forefront of submarine production and technology, and I’m extremely proud that Electric Boat is carrying on that tradition with the USS Illinois.”
The ceremony for the Virginia-class sub started at about 11 a.m.
"Now, the last time I was with you, as you heard, the ILLINOIS looked a little different. It was split up into four different modules, spread across three states. And I was standing in front of one of those modules as we laid the keel," the First Lady said. "And today, here we are, just 16 months later, standing on top of this marvelous submarine, three stories tall, weighing nearly 8,000 tons, longer than a football field. And it’s really a technological wonder. It is full of technologies like a photonics mast, full of high-resolution and infrared cameras. It has the most advanced stealth, sonar, and communications systems, and enough high-definition screens to put Best Buy out of business."
The First Lady participated in the keel laying of the Illinois in 2014 in Rhode Island.
In a Navy tradition, as the ship's sponsor, she wrote her initials on a metal plate, which was then made permanent by a welder and later mounted on the submarine.