Tuesday, February 3, 2015

USS Illinois submarine set to be christened this year

The USS Illinois, still under construction on the East Coast, is a $2.7 billion black behemoth set to prowl the seas after its christening, expected June 27.
Navy Cmdr. Jess Porter, the submarine's captain, is bringing some of his crew to Chicago for two days of public appearances that begin Thursday with a breakfast and presentation at the Union League Club of Chicago.
Porter wants to acquaint people with the warship, to expand a "fan club" that is raising money for a commissioning ceremony and extras for the crew, and to forge long-term ties between Illinois and the 15.6 million pound boat.
Already a prominent Illinois resident is on board: First lady Michelle Obama is the ship's sponsor, so it will fall to her to smash a bottle of Champagne across its bow at the christening in Groton, Conn.
Some fast facts about the fast-attack sub:
•It is 377 feet long with a 34-foot beam and a 32-foot draft, which is the vertical distance from the waterline to the bottom of the hull.
It will be able to dive more than 800 feet below the surface, a staggering distance equal to the height of a 57-story office building.
It will be armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles and MK-48 heavyweight torpedoes, which the Navy says have 650-pound, high-explosive warheads.
It will attain top speeds of more than 25 knots while submerged.
Porter's all-male crew numbers 139 and the sub is almost fully staffed but for "one or two here or there," he said. He's "stoked" about the sub nearing completion and joining the Navy's fleet.
"The thrill, for me, is I guess it's like being an astronaut. There's not that many people who get to drive a fast-attack submarine," said Porter, a native of Pocatello, Idaho, who completed boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Training Center almost 30 years ago.

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