The sponsor of the Iowa is Mrs. Christie Vilsack, an Iowa native and lifelong educator. Vilsack began her career as a teacher of language arts and journalism, in middle, high school and at Iowa Wesleyan College. Beginning in 1999, Christie served as First Lady of Iowa, where she focused on education and literacy issues. Her education advocacy continues in her work on the Board of Iowa Wesleyan University and IREX, an international education non-profit. Christie also currently works as education advisor to the chancellor of Colorado State University.
The keel laying of a ship is a time-honored tradition. In the days of wooden ships, the start of construction was marked by the laying of the first timber – the backbone of the vessel. Today, this celebration is modified to reflect current manufacturing methods as well as the cylindrical shape of modern submarines. Shipbuilders and sailors refer to the bottom centerline of the submarine as the keel.
At the ceremony, EB Quonset Point employee and Rhode Island native Anthony Miele welded Mrs. Vislack’s initials onto a steel plate to be installed on the Iowa, where it will remain throughout the ship’s service life, reminding her crew of the strong bond between the Iowa and her sponsor. Also attending the ceremony were Quonset Point employees who celebrate forty years of service to the company. These employees will be recognized by the company at a celebration of Electric Boat Distinguished Shipbuilders later this fall. Special recognition was given to Electric Boat Structural Fabrication Mechanic, Tom Lowney. During Lowney’s 20-year career in the US Navy, he served aboard the battleship Iowa in 1989.
There are currently eight Virginia-class submarines in various stages of construction at Quonset Point, and one Columbia-class hull. Over the next few years, the site will grow considerably, adding an additional 13-acres of hull outfitting space for Virginia and Columbia class submarines.
Virginia-class SSN technical characteristics
- Total length: 114.8 metres
- Beam: 10.36 metres
- Displacement: 7,800 tonnes submerged
- Maximum speed: 25+ knots
- Crew: 132 persons
- Range: Unlimited