GROTON, Conn. (AP) — Annie Mabus smashed a bottle of sparkling wine from a Denver vineyard against the Navy's newest attack submarine Saturday, christening it the Colorado as the vessel prepares to join a fleet expected to number more than 300 ships by 2019.
The 377-foot-long submarine will become the USS Colorado when it is commissioned as the 15th in the Virginia class of attack submarines, each costing $2.7 billion. The vessels are equipped to carry out warfare against submarines and surface ships, as well as conduct surveillance and deliver Special Operations troops.
Mabus joined her father, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, and others for the ceremony at Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, Connecticut. The bottle of Balistreri Vineyards wine had been chilled before the ceremony in a bucket of water from the Colorado River.
Secretary Mabus said the christening was his last since Democratic President Barack Obama picked him to lead the Navy in 2009.
"I could not have picked a better boat, a better place, a better person to celebrate this final christening," he said during the ceremony, which also included speeches from political leaders from Connecticut and neighboring Rhode Island, where Electric Boat does some of its shipbuilding work.
The submarines are being built in a partnership between Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia. Construction of the Colorado began in March 2012. Its commanding officer — Cmdr. Ken Franklin, a native of Plant City, Florida — has been serving on submarines since 1991.
The Colorado is the fourth U.S. Navy ship to be named for the state. The first was a three-masted frigate launched at Norfolk Navy Yard in 1856. The most recent was a 1923-commissioned battleship that won seven battle stars during World War II.
"After the war, she was assigned to magic carpet duty and brought more than 6,000 veterans home to their families," Mabus said.
He said the crew of the new submarine will be "the rightful heirs to the sailors who crewed the USS Colorado in World War II."