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Skelton speaks at christening ceremony for U.S.S. Missouri
Skelton speaks at christening ceremony for U.S.S. Missouri

Congressman Ike Skelton
GROTON, Conn. (Dec. 5, 2009) – Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) spoke at the Dec. 5 christening of the USS Missouri (SSN 780), a Virginia class attack submarine and the fifth warship in American history to be named after the “Show-Me” State.

“We in Missouri are proud of this ship, proud of this crew, and proud of the shipbuilders that are making her,” said Skelton.

During the ceremony, Skelton presented the ship’s crew with two flags: a Missouri state flag, which flew over the State Capitol in Jefferson City, and a United States flag, which has been flown over the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

“As we name the latest USS Missouri, shipbuilders and sailors alike should remember the legacy represented by the ships that previously bore this distinguished name. I am confident that those who will serve aboard her will make us proud as they write a new chapter in American naval history,” Skelton continued.

Skelton’s full remarks continue below.

_____

Prepared Remarks of Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.)
USS Missouri (SSN-780) Christening Ceremony
General Dynamics Electric Boat Shipyard
Groton, Conn.
Saturday, December 5, 2009

“Good morning to all. What a wonderful day to christen this magnificent vessel that will soon be the world’s finest submarine, bearing the proud name, Missouri.

“I am absolutely honored and thrilled to witness the latest chapter in the State of Missouri’s historic association with the U.S. Navy. All Missouri is proud today. Our state is bound to the Navy and the Navy is bound to Missouri. The vessel we name today carries with it a tradition begun more than 167 years ago with the commissioning of the first USS Missouri.

“That vessel, a frigate capable of both steam and sail, was commissioned in 1842, just 21 years after Missouri was admitted to the Union. She was lost in an unfortunate fire in the Port of Gibraltar when she burned to the waterline.

“The second Missouri — which a retired Navy captain on my staff and I disagree on if it should count — was a Confederate side-wheel steamer used to ferry supplies on the Mississippi during the Civil War. This ship was turned over to the U.S. Navy at the end of the War Between the States, but subsequently scrapped because she was built from green timber and leaked excessively.

“The third Missouri, a battleship commissioned in 1903, was part of Teddy Roosevelt’s famous “Great White Fleet” that sailed around the world in the first decade of the 20th century. The cruise of that fleet marked the true beginning of the United States as a legitimate world power. I have a personal attachment to that particular USS Missouri since my father was a coal-shoveling fireman aboard her in 1918. I proudly display a photograph of that great ship in my office.

“The last Missouri was sponsored by Margaret Truman, the President’s daughter, and is the most famous. The ship was commissioned in 1944 and earned the nickname “Mighty Mo” for the tremendous firepower of her 16-inch guns and her essentially continuous combat action, from arrival in the Pacific theater to hosting the Japanese surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay that ended World War II. The “Mighty Mo” also saw action during the Korean conflict. Decommissioned in 1955, she returned to the active rolls following a major upgrade in 1986. The Mighty Mo” fired some of the first Tomahawk missile strikes during the first Persian Gulf War leading to the liberation of Kuwait. This fine ship gave our country many years of service until her final decommissioning in 1992. In fact, I participated in the re-commissioning and the second decommissioning ceremonies for this, the most celebrated USS Missouri. The historic vessel is now open to the public as a floating museum in Pearl Harbor.

“This new Missouri, the fast attack submarine designated SSN 780, will continue the proud history of those ships before her. We in Missouri are proud of this ship, we are proud of her crew, and we are proud of the shipbuilders who are constructing her. I am told that we are one full year ahead of her contract schedule for the construction process. That is wonderful news and it is a testament to the hard work and dedication of both the shipbuilders and the Navy acquisition team.

“As we name the latest USS Missouri, shipbuilders and sailors alike should remember the legacy represented by the ships that previously held this proud name. This modern submarine will add significantly to our nation’s maritime capabilities and she will be able to project U.S. power wherever necessary to protect U.S. interests.

“I know that when this new submarine is commissioned, many Missourians will attend the ceremonies to pay tribute to the fifth American warship named after the Show-Me State. I am confident that the sailors who will serve on the submarine USS Missouri will make us proud as they continue to write new chapters in naval history.

“I now ask that Command Master Chief Brown, the Chief of the Boat of this fine ship, join me at the podium. Master Chief, I entrust to your care two flags; our national flag which has been flown over the Capitol of the United States and a Missouri state flag which has been flown over the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City. I ask that you break these flags over our ship on the morning of her commissioning and official acceptance by the Navy.

“Thank you. God bless.”

Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) serves as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Skelton’s website is at www.house.gov/skelton.

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