First Lady Michelle Obama visited Rhode Island to help lay the keel for a new submarine being built by Groton's Electric Boat.
Mrs. Obama is the sponsor of the USS Illinois. During the ceremony, she wrote her initials on a metal plate that will be mounted on the submarine. A shipyard welder then inscribed them permanently on the plate.
Mrs. Obama said she believes the ceremony also marks a bigger turning point in the nation's military history. "In many ways," she told the crowd, "this submarine represents not only a new vessel for our Navy, but a new chapter for our country. In the years ahead, we may not have brigades deployed to outposts in the middle of a desert. No matter what, we will have sailors like all of you looking out for us around the globe."
Electric Boat's facility at Quonset Point, Rhode Island hosted the ceremony, but the majority of the workforce is employed at the Groton yard. Second district Congressman Joe Courtney paid tribute to the men and women who are working on the sub. "At the end of the day," he said, "the engineers, designers and amazing shipyard workers, along with their Navy counterparts, are the driving force for why the Virginia Class and the USS Illinois in particular are such great examples of American excellence in shipbuilding."
The boat is the 13th sub in the Virginia Class. It's due to be delivered to the Navy in 2016.