By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kleynia McKnight, Navy Public Affairs Support Element - East
Specialist 3rd class Kleynia McKnight
NORFOLK (NNS) -- With the traditional first order "man our ship and bring her to life," Sailors assigned to USS New Mexico (SSN 779) boarded the Virginia-class attack submarine during a commissioning ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk March 27.
New Mexico is named in recognition of the people of the "Land of Enchantment." The battleship New Mexico (BB-40) (1918-1946), the only other ship named after the 47th state, earned six battle stars for World War II service, which included providing shore bombardment support for landings in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, Guam, Tinian, Saipan, the Philippines, and Okinawa.
Adm. Kirkland Donald, director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion, who delivered the ceremony's principal address, recognized the Northrop Grumman Corporation, distinguished guests, former battleship New Mexico veterans, ship's crew, family and friends stating, "'Defendemos Nuestra Tierra' - defend our land - is the ship's motto, which will start the harmonious tone to the operation of this ship.
"It's been a marvel to see the team come together and deliver this operation so well. At the end of the day, this mission-ready ship has been delivered in the shortest time of all other Virginia-class submarines."
New Mexico Sponsor, Cindy Giambastiani, wife of former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff retired Adm. Edmund Giambastiani, congratulated Cmdr. Mark Prokopius, officers and crew members. "Your courage and patriotism will reflect on the life of the ship."
Prokopius, New Mexico's commanding officer, will lead the crew of approximately 134 officers and enlisted personnel.
"I am proud and humbled to be part of the crew and their commanding officer. I am truly grateful for the dedication that the crew has given to this ship," said Prokopius.
Northrop Grumman Corporation delivered the sixth submarine of the Virginia class to the U.S. Navy in December, four months ahead of schedule. New Mexico's 70-month construction period represents the shortest overall construction time to date of any Virginia-class submarine.
New Mexico is built to excel in anti-submarine warfare; anti-ship warfare; strike warfare; special operations; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; battle group support; and mine warfare missions. By doing so, New Mexico will directly enable five of the six Navy Maritime Strategy Core Capabilities - sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence.
The 7,800-ton New Mexico was built under a unique teaming arrangement between Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Electric Boat. She is 377-feet long, has a 34-foot beam, and will be able to dive to depths of greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged. New Mexico is designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship - reducing life-cycle costs while increasing underway time.
The keel for New Mexico was authenticated April 12, 2008, and the ship was christened on Dec. 13, 2008. New Mexico is the most modern and sophisticated attack submarine in the world, providing undersea supremacy well into the 21st century.
For more news from Commander Submarine Group 2, visit www.navy.mil/local/Subgru2/.