President Joe Biden on Saturday commissioned the USS Delaware, a nuclear attack submarine, saying it would enhance national security, though he made no reference to the global turmoil from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This latest Navy ship to carry the Delaware name, the president said in brief remarks, “is part of a long tradition of serving our nation proudly and strengthening our nation’s security … not just us, but our allies and partners around the world as well. In fact, it’s already been doing that for some time.”
After the ceremony, the president took a private tour of the Delaware. He did not respond to questions from reporters about Ukraine. First lady Jill Biden is the submarine’s sponsor, a role meant to bring a vessel luck.
With a crew of 136 sailors, the Delaware is the 18th Virginia-class fast attack submarine, which is designed to seek and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships, and can fire Tomahawk cruise missiles, the Navy says.
The ship is 115 meters long, can dive to depths greater than 240 meters, and operate at speeds in excess of 46 km/h submerged. The submarine is also designed to operate for more than three decades without needing to refuel, according to a Defense Department news release. This is the first time in a century the name ‘Delaware’ has been used for a Navy vessel, according to a Defense Department statement. In total, seven Navy ships have been named after the state which Biden represented in the Senate for 36 years before his tenures as vice president and president.