Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Honors USS Missouri Sailors
GROTON, Conn. - (July 22, 2010) Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick West pinned the Enlisted Submarine Warfare ensignia, also known as "dolphins," on 15 Sailors assigned to Virginia-class attack submarine Pre-Commissionnig Unit (PCU) Missouri (SSN 780) today during a visit to Naval Submarine Base Groton.
The dolphins are a submarine warfare insignia worn by enlisted and officers that signifies a Sailor is proficient in using all the systems aboard the submarine. Qualifying to wear dolphins takes about a year.
MCPON West was in Groton to speak at a retirement ceremony and attend Missouri's commissioning, which takes place July 31 at 11 a.m. EDT at Naval Submarine Base New London. The event will be streamed live online on www.public.navy.mil/usff/CSG2/Pages/default.aspx.
Missouri arrived at Naval Submarine Base New London July 22 in preparation for commissioning following a material readiness inspection by the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) team. INSURV is a survey team established by Congress to assess Navy surface ships, aircraft carriers and submarines and ensure they are properly equipped for prompt, reliable and sustained mission readiness at sea.
Cmdr. Timothy Rexrode is the commanding officer of Missouri, the seventh ship of the Virginia-class.
Missouri completed sea trials earlier this month.
There are five Missouri natives among the submarine's crew. They are Electronics Technician 1st Class John M. Tyhurst, a Joplin, Mo., native; Sonar Technician Seaman Benjamin A. Bowers, a Green Ridge native; Lt. Patrick Donovan, a Springfield, Mo. native; Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Nicholas C. Koblick, a St. Louis native; and, Fire Control Technician 2nd Class Ryan J. Thruston, a Jefferson City, Mo. native.
Construction on Missouri began in December 2004; the submarine's keel was authenticated during a ceremony on Sept. 27, 2008 at the Electric Boat facility in North Kingstown, R.I.; and, she was christened during a late morning ceremony at Electric Boat Dec. 5, 2009.
Another milestone occurred April 16 during "In Service Day," when crew members moved aboard the submarine, bringing her systems to life, beginning general day-to-day operations and preparing for sea-trials, work-ups and commissioning.
Rexrode leads a crew of about 134 officers and enlisted personnel. A native of Spencer, W.Va., Rexrode graduated with honors in 1990 from West Virginia University, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. In addition, Rexrode is a distinguished graduate of the United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College, holding as Master's in Military Studies. He also received a Master's of Arts degree in Administration from Central Michigan University.
Becky Gates, wife of U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, serves as the submarine's sponsor. She broke the traditional champagne bottle against the boat's sail during the christening ceremony last December. Her initials were welded into a plaque inside the boat during last year's keel laying ceremony.
Missouri is the fifth Navy ship to be named in honor of the people of the "Show Me State." The last USS Missouri, the legendary battleship, was the site where Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and many other U.S. and Allied officers accepted the unconditional surrender of the Japanese at the end of World War II Sept. 2, 1945.
Missouri is built to excel in anti-submarine warfare; anti-ship warfare; strike warfare; special operations; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions. Adept at operating in both the world's shallow littoral regions and deep waters, Missouri will directly enable five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities - sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence.
The 7,800-ton submarine Missouri is being built under a teaming arrangement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-Newport News. At 377-feet long, Missouri is slightly longer than a football field. She has a 34-foot beam, will be able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and will operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged. Missouri is designed with a nuclear reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs and increasing underway time.
The USS Missouri Commissioning Committee, an IRS-designated 501(c)3 nonprofit charity, was created to increase awareness of the submarine's commissioning. The Commissioning Committee offers information about the development of the submarine, as well as history on former Navy ships named for the "Show Me State."