GROTON, Conn. – The Navy commissioned the fast-attack Virginia-class submarine USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN 795) in a traditional ceremony held October 14, at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut.
Darleen Greenert, Rickover’s sponsor, Navy veteran, and wife of former Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert, highlighted the sacrifice of military families during her remarks and remembered the late Eleonore Rickover, the namesake admiral’s wife and sponsor of SSN 709.
“How lucky am I be to be standing by these wonderful, amazing submariners,” Greenert said to the audience before making one request. “Take my submarine sailors in your hearts and keep them in your prayers – however you pray – and help them be strong because we know they are brave.”
The ceremony culminated a years-long process for commissioning the USS Rickover, the second submarine to commemorate Adm. Hyman G. Rickover – often referred to as the father of the nuclear Navy. The first Hyman G. Rickover (SSN 709), commissioned in Groton on July 21, 1984, and deployed 12 times until its decommissioning in December 2007.
Greenert gave the crew the traditional order to “man our ship and bring her to life,” after which Rickover’s sailors responded “aye aye ma’am” before ceremonially running aboard the submarine.
Rickover’s commanding officer Cmdr. Matthew Beach called the event a “momentous occasion” during his speech.
“The commissioning of [this] ship is dedicated to a leader who reshaped our sea service through an unrelenting 63 years of service,” Beach said of Adm. Rickover’s legacy. “In front of you today on board this ship, the proud sailors of the next generation – Hyman G. Rickover – stand ready to continue this legacy of excellence guiding our ship into harm’s way and defending the values that we hold dear.”
Other speakers at the commissioning ceremony included Kevin Graney, president of General Dynamics Corp.’s Electric Boat shipyard, as well as U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney of Connecticut. The master of ceremonies was Lt. Cmdr. Collin Hedges, executive officer of the USS Rickover.
Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro praised the crew and the shipbuilders during his speech calling the commissioning a “true milestone for our fleet.”
“It is great to be here in Groton, known to many as the submarine capital of the world, as we celebrate the return of Rickover into service,” Del Toro said. “The crew of Hyman G. Rickover and our industry partners have worked tirelessly over the past several years to bring our nation’s newest submarine to life and we wouldn’t be here today without them.”
Capt. Jason Grizzle, commodore of Rickover’s parent Submarine Squadron (SUBRON) FOUR, likened the success of the crew to the “hard work and dedication that directly mirror the teachings of the boat’s namesake.”
“In the words of Adm. Rickover, ‘when doing a job — any job — one must feel that he owns it, and act as though he will remain in that job forever,’” Grizzle said. “Matt and his crew truly embody the ingenuity and attention-to-detail which has been instilled in every submariner from day one – and I think every submarine veteran can feel this boat and this force is, and remains to be, theirs.”
Rickover’s youngest plankowner – an honorific given to commissioning crewmembers – Seaman Mark Dean called the commissioning event an “unreal experience” only being on board for a short time.
“It’s just a cool experience that not many people are able to experience,” Dean said. “Today, my submarine is being put into the fleet.”
Adm. Frank Caldwell, director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, highlighted Adm. Rickover’s “enduring impact” on the Submarine Force as “we celebrate 75 years of the nuclear propulsion program.”
“Admiral Rickover challenged what’s possible beginning with our first nuclear powered submarine – USS Nautilus,” Caldwell said during his remarks. “In doing so, he changed our submarine force, he changed the nature of naval warfare, and he changed U.S. industry and shipbuilding forever.”
USS Rickover is 377 feet long, has a 34-foot beam and is able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots. Rickover has a crew of nearly 135 Navy personnel.
Fast-attack submarines are multi-mission platforms enabling five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities – sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security and deterrence. They are designed to excel in anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship warfare, strike warfare, special operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, irregular warfare and mine warfare. Fast-attack submarines project power ashore with special operations forces and Tomahawk cruise missiles in the prevention or preparation of regional crises.