USS Rickover’s Commissioning ‘Sends Message Of Strength’ To Nation’s Allies And Adversaries

The Day

By: Terell Wright

October 15, 2023

Groton — The USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN 795) was officially commissioned Saturday morning with roaring excitement from its 130 sailors at the Naval Submarine Base.

“This is an exciting event that really caps off the work of over almost five years by the Electric Boat and Newport News shipyard,” said U.S. Navy Commanding Officer Matthew Beach.

With 1,300 attendees present at the ceremony, the Virginia-class submarine is the latest addition to the Navy’s fleet of nuclear submarines.

The boat honors the legacy of U.S. Navy Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, who fought in World War II and served for 64 years. Known as the “Father of the Nuclear Navy,” this is the second submarine named after him. The first USS Rickover (SSN 709) was decommissioned in 2007.

Extending 377 feet, the submarine has three levels, including sleeping quarters, meeting rooms and a full-size kitchen.

“We've been developing submarine technology again for over 100 years now. It really started shortly after World War II, when our vessel’s namesake Admiral Hyman G. Rickover — recognized that there was a capability to utilize nuclear technology for submarine propulsion,” said Beach.

The boat can reach depths more than 800 feet below the surface and a speed greater than 25 knots — or “really fast,” he said.

Beach will oversee a crew of 140 trained sailors and officers, who on Saturday showed emotion as they manned the vessel in preparation for the beginning of their next journeys.

Darlene Greenert, who served in the Navy for 36 years as an officer and is now retired, sponsored the commissioning of the USS Rickover. She tearfully gazed at the submariners with gratitude and pride.

“I have one request of all of you and those you know. Take my submarine sailors in your hearts and keep them in your prayers,” she said.

State and federal leaders celebrate

The event was attended by several state and federal officials, including Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District.

Courtney in his speech highlighted Rickover’s legacy to the Navy’s development and the importance of submarine manufacturing in the region, including Electric Boat’s goal of filling 5,750 jobs.

“This is a great day for the Navy, our shipbuilders, international allies and partners and veterans to renew Adm. Rickover’s legacy of excellence. And to the crew, congratulations on a job well done, and best wishes as you embark on your journey to do great things for our nation,” he said.

Del Toro, Courtney and Blumenthal said the commissioning sends a strong message to allies and adversaries as conflict continues throughout the world, such as in Israel and Ukraine.

Blumenthal noted Rickover’s Jewish-Polish immigrant background in his speech. He also highlighted the importance of the nation’s nuclear submarine capabilities, stating that democracy is at a “dangerous place.” He said the ceremony is proof the U.S. is prepared to contain and deter conflict, particularly in Israel, which is now at war with Hamas, a Palestinian militant group.

“The message today is that the United States needs to be strong so that it can contain conflict like we see in the Middle East and deter adversaries from thinking they can take advantage of turmoil…This submarine is part of that deterrence,” said Blumenthal.

Meet some of the crew

Following his Navy veteran father’s footsteps, Petty Officer Keondric Paigg works with sonar technicians. In his role, Paigg is responsible for detecting sound and ensuring the submarine’s location is concealed.

“I honestly never saw myself being on a submarine when I was younger. And here I am,” Paigg said. “I enjoy coming to work every day. The software division itself is really amazing. We hang out outside of work together [as well], so there's a good bond.”

Petty Officer Barrett Long mans computers that control the submarine’s nuclear reactors. The 24 year-old’s grandfather was a nuclear physicist, who served during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Barrett’s family is proud to see him continue the legacy of his family.

“[The process] has definitely been difficult but rewarding for a lot of our crew. To actually help with the build process and finally be here is something we’re very excited about,” he said.

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