Ryan Browne, CNN
9 February 2016
WASHINGTON – A dozen years ago, third-graders in Dover, New Hampshire, launched a letter-writing campaign to name a new Navy submarine after their state.
Today, as the residents of New Hampshire prepare to go to the polls Tuesday, the state's naval namesake sits at the forefront of the Navy's new fleet of cutting-edge submarines.
And many of the students who lobbied their members of Congress, governor and the secretary of the Navy back then are now 20 to 22 and eligible to vote in their first presidential primary.
One of them is Hanna Munoz, a college student studying abroad in Spain.
She told CNN via email that the letter-writing campaign was the suggestion of a classmate's parent, and the teacher and other students immediately embraced the idea.
"I don't think any of us thought it would actually happen!" she recalled. "I feel very honored to have the submarine named after New Hampshire. I think it shows how dedicated our class was to the idea, and I think the persistence shown by a group of elementary children is something amazing."
Hanna she that she hadn't felt informed enough to make a decision in time to submit an absentee ballot from Spain but has since been following the race closely. She said she wished she were voting in the primary next week and that her choice would probably be Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.
She added, "Knowing that New Hampshire is the only (early) primary state with a naval vessel named after it made the process and the outcome even more exciting."
Another one of those third-graders is Connor Cunio, who is serving as a crew chief with the U.S. Air Force's 157th Air Refueling Wing and did vote by absentee ballot in the primary.
Their involvement with the naming of the USS New Hampshire isn't the only interesting fact about the state-of-the-art submarine -- or point linking it to the landmark vote taking place next week.
Here are five things to know about the USS New Hampshire.
1. There's one potential primary voter aboard
According to the Atlantic Submarine Fleet, at least one member of the Granite State-honored sub's 132-person crew will be able to vote in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
The Navy press office told CNN that the sailor will have the opportunity to participate in Tuesday's contest through the Navy's Unit Voting Assistance Officers. These officers are tasked with helping sailors fill out and return absentee ballots even when deployed around the globe.
2. It was launched in an election year
The vessel was commissioned at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on the New Hampshire-Maine border in October 2008, 10 months after Hillary Clinton bested Barack Obama in the Granite State's 2008 Democratic primary, keeping her hopes of the party's nomination alive.
3. The sub shares the state motto, 'Live free or Die'
"To have the ship's motto the same as the state's motto of 'Life Free or Die' is especially fitting," the submarine's then-commanding officer, Cmdr. Michael Stevens, said at the time of boat's commissioning, according to a Navy statement.
The submarine is equipped to live up to this combative motto. It is armed with 12 Tomahawk cruise missiles as well as MK48 torpedoes that are fired from four tubes, two on each side of the ship. The boat also features advanced war-fighting controls.
4. It's the 'Swiss army knife of submarines'
The USS New Hampshire is a $2 billion Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarine, is about 377 feet long, weighs 7,800 tons and can travel over 25 knots.
The Virginia class is "the Swiss Army knife of submarines," according to Andrew Hunter of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Unlike other submarines, such as ballistic missile subs, which are geared towards one specific mission, Hunter said submarines such as the New Hampshire are capable of carrying out a wide range of missions, including intelligence and sea control.
5. In submarines, Iowa will follow New Hampshire
During a trip to Iowa in September, the secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, announced that the Navy would build a Virginia-class attack submarine that will be named the USS Iowa.
The first Virginia-class submarine was launched in 2004 in part to replace the more expensive Seawolf class and the older Los Angeles class, which first debuted in 1976.
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