A roughly $2-billion nuclear submarine will be named for Vermont, the secretary of the U.S. Navy, Ray Mabus, announced Thursday. "It's important to connect the country to the Navy that protects it," Mabus said at a ceremony on Lake Champlain, which he noted was where critical naval battles were fought, including the Battle of Plattsburgh during the War of 1812.
Vermont has had other Navy vessels bear its name, but no new one since before World War One, Mabus pointed out. He said construction should begin on the USS Vermont in about a year, and it should join the fleet in the latter part of this decade. No basing location for the fast-attack sub has been announced, Mabus said.
Mabus described the Virginia-Class submarine as the next generation of vessel: versatile and capable of stealth operations for its 30-40 year term of service. The Navy recently announced an approximately $18-billion plan to build 10 of the subs. Others will also be named for states, Mabus told reporters, adding that a handful of other states have not had a Navy vessel carry their names in quite some time.
Royal Sheeley, with the Vermont chapter of the United States Submarine Veterans group, cheered the announcement. "Having a submarine named after your state is a pretty big honor," he told New England Cable News.
Despite the fact Vermont has a vocal population of anti-war activists, and a legislature that pushed for the shutdown of the state's one nuclear power plant, Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vt., said he is glad Vermont's name will be on the side of a fast-attack nuclear sub. "Vermonters don't want to fight unnecessary wars, but we support--universally--our men and women who fight for this nation, and we support our armed forces," Shumlin told NECN.
Much of the construction, as well as the assembly, will take place in Groton, Connecticut, Mabus said.