In a public ceremony delayed two years by the pandemic, President Joe Biden on Saturday commissioned the USS Delaware, a nuclear attack submarine, saying it would enhance national security, though he made no reference to the global turmoil from Russia's invasion of Ukraine. "As the commander in chief, I believe it is our sacred obligation as nation to prepare and equip those troops that we send into harm's way and to care for them and their families when they return home,’" he told invited guests and dignitaries assembled on a restricted part of the dock in Wilmington, the AP reports.
This latest Navy ship to be named for the state he represented in the Senate, the president said in brief remarks, "is part of a long tradition of serving our nation proudly and strengthening our nation's security ... not just us, but our allies and partners around the world as well. In fact it's already been doing that for some time." In April 2020, with the coronavirus spreading across the US, the Delaware was commissioned while underwater, a first for a Navy vessel. Since then, it has been in training. After the ceremony, the president took a private tour of the Delaware.
First lady Jill Biden is the submarine's sponsor, a role meant to bring luck. During her remarks, she exclaimed: "Officers and crew of the USS Delaware, man our ship and bring her to life." The crew responded, "Aye aye, ma'am," and, as she applauded, sailors in dress uniforms ran behind the crowd, then onto the submarine, lining up on the deck. With a crew of 136 sailors, the Delaware is the 18th Virginia-class fast attack submarine, designed to seek and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships, and can fire Tomahawk cruise missiles, the Navy says. The ship is 377 feet long, can dive to depths greater than 800 feet and operate in excess of 25 knots submerged. The submarine is designed to operate for more than three decades without needing to refuel, according to a Defense Department news release.
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