Sunday, August 27, 2006
The Navy will commission the USS Texas, second ship of the Virginia attack submarine class, Sept. 9, during a 10 a.m. CDT ceremony at the Port of Galveston piers in Galveston, Texas. As the Navy's next-generation attack submarine, the Virginia-class submarine is the first class specifically designed to counter post-Cold War threats, providing the Navy with the capabilities required for safeguarding the nation�s interests in the 21st century. Texas has improved stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that enable it to meet the Navy's multimission requirements. With a modular design, Texas along with its other sister submarines of the Virginia class, will be able to accommodate technology upgrades throughout its life.Sen. John Cornyn of Texas will deliver the ceremony�s principal address. Laura Bush, first lady of the United States, serves as the ship�s sponsor. In the time-honored tradition of commissioning U.S. naval ships, she has been invited to give the order to "man our ship and bring her to life!" This is the fourth ship of the Navy to carry the name Texas since the original ship was commissioned in 1895. The second USS Texas (BB 35) was a battleship, which took part in both World Wars. The most recent ship named Texas was a nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser (CGN 39), which was decommissioned in 1977. Texas can attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters and other sea forces. Texas also has superior anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare capabilities, is able to provide special forces delivery and support, and can conduct mine delivery and minefield mapping. With enhanced communications connectivity, Texas will also provide important joint task force support and full integration into strike and expeditionary group operations.Capt. John Litherland, a 1982 graduate of the University of Washington in Seattle, will become the first commanding officer of the ship, leading a crew of approximately 134 officers and enlisted sailors. Texas will be homeported in Groton, Conn., as a unit of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Texas is 377 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 34 feet, a navigational draft of 32 feet, displaces approximately 7,800 tons submerged, can dive to depths greater than 800 feet, and can sustain speeds of more than 25 knots when submerged. The ship is also designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship � reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time. The superior capabilities of Texas and other Virginia-class submarines will help ensure the Navy maintains undersea dominance well into the 21st century.