First lady Jill Biden brought to life the USS Delaware in a commissioning ceremony for the Virginia-class submarine at the Port of Wilmington on Saturday.
“It’s difficult to put into words how much it means to be a part of the USS Delaware family. It’s an incredible honor that I take seriously. I have cherished getting to know this community,” said Biden, the fast-attack submarine’s sponsor. “I’ve seen the heart of this crew, and it makes me feel both proud and humbled to be your shipmate for life.”
Biden officially christened the boat back in 2018, smashing a bottle of champagne across its bow during a ceremony at a Virginia shipyard, which Delaware Democratic Gov. John Carney fondly recounted on Saturday: “That bottle just exploded, it was something to behold.” Biden was named the boat’s sponsor during a Pentagon ceremony announcing the future vessel’s name in 2012, when her husband was vice president.
A ship’s sponsor, according to the Society of Sponsors of the US Navy, is named by the secretary of the Navy and is someone who participates in the ship’s important milestones, such as its commissioning, decommissioning and christening. The sponsor also has a “lifelong” relationship with the ship, its crew and their families.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the USS Delaware was administratively commissioned underwater in April 2020, a first for the Navy, according to Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, who noted Saturday that “a great ship, a great crew and a great state deserves this great moment in the sun.” Saturday’s celebration represented the ceremonial commissioning of the ship, which is the seventh US Navy vessel to be named after the First State.
The US Navy has been procuring Virginia-class submarines since 1998 at a cost of $3.45 billion per boat, and the first entered service in October 2004, according to the Congressional Research Service. The nuclear-powered Virginia-class is capable of tracking and sinking enemy ships, launching Tomahawk missiles that can