Navy's newest submarine quietly joins fleet after coronavirus cancels public commissioning

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Posted at 2:26 PM, Apr 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-06 18:01:07-04

NORFOLK, Va. - It wasn't the commissioning ceremony the Navy had planned for its newest submarine.

The USS Delaware officially joined the fleet rather quietly over the weekend.

A traditional public commissioning ceremony had been planned at the Port of Wilmington until the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on large gatherings canceled it.

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Instead, the Navy administratively commissioned the Delaware on Saturday, transitioning the ship to normal operations.

In a statement, Commander Matthew Horton, Commanding Officer of the USS Delware, reflected on the six years of work to bring the submarine to life.

“As we do our part to maintain the nation’s undersea supremacy well into the future, today marks a milestone for the sailors who serve aboard USS Delaware. Whether they have been here for her initial manning three years ago, or have just reported, they all are strong, capable submariners ready to sail the nation’s newest warship into harm’s way,” Horton said. “I am equally proud of the families who have stood by through the long hours of shift work, testing, and sea trials and supported our mission with patriotism and devotion.”

The Navy says it is looking for ways to commemorate the commissioning in the future, once it is safe to do so, with the ship's sponsor Dr. Jill Biden, crew, and commissioning committee.

It is the final Block III Virginia-class submarine, built locally at Newport News Shipbuilding.

The Delaware is the seventh U.S. Navy ship, but first submarine, to be named for the state of Delaware.

It will eventually be homeported in Groton, Connecticut.