The US Navy has held an official commissioning ceremony for Virginia-class attack submarine USS Delaware, which has actually been in service for two years.
Officials had planned to commission the Delaware much sooner, but due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the official commissioning ceremony was delayed in favor of an administrative commissioning in April 2020. The ship has been in operation since then.
US first lady Dr. Jill Biden and president Joe Biden participated in the official commissioning of USS Delaware at the Port of Wilmington in Delaware, on April 2.
The first lady serves as sponsor of the ship and participated in its christening in October 2018.
In addition to the Bidens, navy secretary Carlos Del Toro, Delaware governor John Carney, US senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons of Delaware, the ship’s crew, and others officially commissioned the ship.
As the ship’s sponsor, Jill Biden has been involved in key events in the ship’s history. She has also spent significant time during her husband’s presidency and vice presidency working with and supporting the families of military service members — including those of the Delaware’s crew.
“Jill has watched over the progress of the USS Delaware for years,” Biden said. “[As] the daughter of a Navy signalman during World War II, the mother of a member of the Delaware National Guard, and the grandmother of children who experienced having their father deployed away from home for a year at a time, she always holds our military and their families in her heart.”
The first lady said she learned she’d been selected as the ship’s sponsor back when her husband served as vice president.
“I’ll never forget the pride I felt when I stood at the Pentagon with [then-] Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus … to announce that I would be the ship’s sponsor,” she said. “The USS Delaware was nothing more than a drawing then.”
In 2018, the first lady said she attended the christening of the ship in Newport News, Virginia, where the ship was built, and saw what had previously been only a drawing “come to life in a shower of champagne.”
“I saw the truth of what Secretary Mabus said when it all began, that this vessel will always uphold the first state’s motto of ‘Liberty and Independence,'” the first lady said.
Navy Cmdr. Matthew Horton, who now serves as commanding officer of the USS Delaware, thanked the first lady for serving as the ship’s sponsor and for supporting the families of US service members, including those of the USS Delaware.
“The personal interest you’ve shown [for] the well-being of the families of [the] USS Delaware is unmatched,” he said.
Horton said sailors have known since antiquity that the best way to conduct naval operations was not on the surface, but beneath the waves. A naval vessel like the USS Delaware accomplishes what they had only dreamed of, he said.
The USS Delaware is the seventh Navy ship and first submarine named after the state of Delaware. The Virginia-class submarine is multi-mission platform that will carry out the seven core competencies of the submarine force: anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; delivery of special operations forces; strike warfare; irregular warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and mine warfare.