US shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries has hosted a virtual christening ceremony for the US Navy’s newest fast-attack submarine, the future USS Montana (SSN 794).
Due to COVID-19 restrictions on the size of public gatherings, the christening ceremony was hosted virtually on September 12 at Newport News’ Module Outfitting Facility.
“Yes, we are disappointed we couldn’t host the normal pomp and circumstance today, and that our shipbuilders and their families couldn’t be here in person to witness history. But as shipbuilders, we know the show must go on,” said Jennifer Boykin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding.
Boykin also applauded the work and craftsmanship of more than 10,000 shipbuilders from Newport News and its partner, General Dynamics Electric Boat who continue to assemble Montana.
Former Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, the ship’s sponsor, smashed a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow to mark the christening of the submarine that honors the state of Montana.
The virtual event included pre-taped segments where maid of honor Mariah Gladstone, of the Blackfeet Nation in Montana, recited a Native American blessing and members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, of Flathead Indian Reservation, performed a traditional Native American honor song.
While being the 21st boat in its class, Montana is the second Navy warship bearing the state’s name. The first USS Montana (ACR-13) was an armored cruiser built at Newport News Shipbuilding and launched in 1906. During the ceremony, a replica of the bell that sailed on the first Montana was rung. The bell will be formally presented to the crew at the ship’s commissioning, and will be part of the submarine for its entire service life.
Construction of Montana began in 2015 under a teaming agreement with Electric Boat. The submarine achieved pressure hull complete earlier this year, and is about 85% complete. Montana is scheduled for delivery to the Navy in late 2021.