Continuing a time-honored shipbuilding tradition, on March 7, Ship Sponsor Annie Mabus laid the keel of the submarine Colorado, marking the ceremonial start of construction for the 15th ship of the Virginia Class.
The event was hosted by General Dynamics Electric Boat at its Quonset Point facility and attended by local and Congressional dignitaries, Navy officials and more than 1,000 employees and family members. Mabus, the daughter of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, chalked her initials on a steel plate to be affixed in the submarine. Electric Boat employee John Alves then welded Mabus’ initials onto the plate.
"Here in Quonset Point and in Groton, in Newport News and around the country, thousands and thousands of exceptionally skilled shipbuilders will build the USS Colorado, the most advanced ship in the world," said Navy Secretary Mabus. "No one builds warships as well as America. No one."
Along with the other ships of the Virginia Class, Colorado represents a revolution in submarine design, construction and mission capability. Its contract delivery date to the Navy is August 2017.
Virginia-class submarines have been delivered on-budget and ahead-of-schedule, and displace 7,800 tons, with a hull length of 377 feet and a diameter of 34 feet. They are capable of speeds in excess of 25 knots and can dive to a depth greater than 800 feet, while carrying Mark 48 advanced capability torpedoes, Tomahawk land-attack missiles and unmanned underwater vehicles. In April 2014, the Navy awarded a $17.6 billion contract – the largest in Navy shipbuilding history – to build 10 additional vessels.
"Colorado will be a testament to the dedication of the employees of Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding; our supplier network; the leadership of the U.S. Navy, and our supporters in Congress," said Jeffrey S. Geiger, president of Electric Boat.
Serving as the backdrop for the ceremony was the 100-foot, 1,600-ton module that will contain Colorado’s engine room.