Newport News Shipbuilding lays keel for USS Oklahoma (SSN 802)

Written by Marine Log Staff
Welder plays role is USS Oklahoma keel laying

NNS welder Alex VanCampen etched sponsor’s initials onto a metal plate, signifying the keel of SSN 802 as being “truly and fairly laid.”

NAVSEA reports that senior Navy leaders and shipbuilders gathered at HII-Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) Wednesday, Aug. 2, to attend a keel-laying authentication for the future Virginia-class nuclear submarine USS Oklahoma (SSN 802).

The keel laying signifies a major milestone in the life of a ship where the ship begins to transition from design to reality. The future USS Oklahoma will be the 29th Virginia Class Submarine and the first Block V submarine. It is the second Navy vessel, and the first submarine, to be named for the state of Oklahoma.

“Today represents a culmination of hard work and skill performed by a talented shipbuilding workforce and a strong foundation for future sailors who will patrol the deep seas aboard Oklahoma in service of our nation,” said Capt. Mike Hollenbach, Virginia Class Program Manager at NAVSEA’s Team Submarines.

“We enjoy participating in Navy traditions like this one because they remind us of the important role we play in our nation’s defense,” NNS President Jennifer Boykin said. “The nuclear submarines we build help ensure our peace and freedoms, and we take great pride in being a nuclear shipyard.”

The ship’s sponsor is Mary “Molly” Slavonic, an Oklahoma native. Slavonic has long supported both the state of Oklahoma and the Navy. She worked alongside her husband, former acting Under Secretary of the Navy Greg Slavonic, in building the USS Oklahoma (BB 37) Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to honor the 429 sailors and Marines who died aboard the battleship during the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

During Wednesday’s authentication, NNS welder Alex VanCampen etched Slavonic’s initials onto a metal plate, signifying the keel of SSN 802 as being “truly and fairly laid.” The metal plate will remain affixed to the submarine throughout its life.

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