Larry Lusk (Account Manager) and Pete Kelly (General Manager) had the privilege of being invited to the Keel Laying Ceremony at Newport News Shipbuilding for the Virginia-Class Washington (SSN-787) attack submarine.
A keel laying is the symbolic beginning of building the ship, originating from the large structural beam (or keel) that serves as the foundation or spine of the ship’s hull. Although modular construction techniques mean that the ship is no longer built from the bottom up, the keel laying is still celebrated as a momentous event in the ship’s construction.
During the keel laying ceremony, the ship’s sponsor authenticates the keel by chalking her initials onto a metal plate. The initials are then welded onto a plate that is permanently affixed to the ship.
The submarine is being built by Huntington Ingalls Industries in partnership with the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics. During the reception that followed, Larry and Pete had the opportunity to shake hands and speak with the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus.
Washington will be the 14th Virginia-Class submarine and the seventh to be delivered by Newport News. Construction began in September 2011, marking the beginning of the two-submarines-per-year build plan between Newport News and Electric Boat.