PCU Jimmy Carter (SSN-23)
Rosalyn Carter cracking bottle against submarine USS Jimmy Carter (SS-23) as President Carter looks on during Christening Ceremony of the U.S. Navy's newest submarine. (U.S. Navy Photograph)
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With a swing of the champaign bottle and a blessing for "all who sail in her," former First Lady Rosalynn Carter christened PCU JIMMY CARTER (SSN 23) on June 5, 2004, at the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics in Groton, CT. The boat, named after our country's thirty-ninth president, James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr., is still referred to as PCU (Prospective Commissioning Unit) until JIMMY CARTER (SS-23) is offically commissioned as an active warship in February 2005.
Attending the christening ceremony was Secretary of the Navy Gordon England, former President Jimmy Carter, his wife of fifty-eight years, Rosalynn Carter, their daughter Amy, and a crowd of more than 4,500 who came to bear witness to the christening of the third and last SEAWOLF-class submarine.
President Carter spoke briefly, mostly to introduce his wife Rosalynn. "This is a wonderful day for me, and to see my wife break the champagne on undoubtedly the finest, and formidable, ship in the world was a great honor for me," said Carter. "And to have my name on it, I am very grateful."
VADM Kirkland Donald, Commander, Naval Submarine Forces, noted the eagerness of the crew to get JIMMY CARTER out to sea, and he praised the men for all their personal and professional accomplishments. “We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of this fine ship in our fleet and the remarkable capability that she’ll bring,” said Donald. “This crew is very eager to get under way. Over 40 Sailors earned their ‘dolphins’ – while training onboard other submarines – and they have a perfect retention rate of 100 percent and an exceptional advancement rate that’s well above the Navy’s average. Eighteen of their enlisted Sailors have been selected into officer commissioning programs. I think it reflects the caliber of this crew that Jimmy Carter is the recipient of the 2003 Atlantic Fleet Golden Anchor Award.”
Other distinguished speakers filled out the program, leading up to the consummate moment when Mrs. Carter broker the traditional champaign bottle across her bow. Electric Boat President and General Dynamics Vice President John Casey was equally excited to have PCU JIMMY CARTER (SSN-23) one step closer to joining the fleet. "This is an exciting day to be in the submarine business," Casey said. "This ship I'm standing on this morning represents a remarkable achievement for Electric Boat, the Navy and our nation. Five years ago, this vessel's distinguishing characteristic, the Multi-Mission Platform, existed only in the minds of a few. Today, this notion has become a reality, providing this ship and submarine force with astounding capabilities."
Carter is the third and last of the SEAWOLF-class, a follow-on to the previous LOS ANGELES-class. The basic Seawolf-class design, maximum diving depth, top speed, and firepower are rumored to be extraordinary -- details are top secret.
Former President Jimmy Carter (right) waves to the crowd as he and Navy Secretary Gordon England take their seats for the christening ceremony of Jimmy Carter. The new submarine honors Carter as the 39th President of the United States – and the only U.S. Chief Executive ever Qualified-in-Submarines. This christening was a homecoming of sorts for the former Commander-in-Chief, who was stationed in the Groton, Connecticut area from 1948 to 1952 as a young submarine officer. (U.S. Navy Photograph)
Differentiating JIMMY CARTER (SSN-23) from the others of her class is a 100-foot hull extension that enhances her multi-mission payload capability and enables her to accommodate a new generation of advanced weapons and sensor technologies. (U.S. Navy Photograph)
Navy Band Northeast Director - Chief Musician Don Chilton
John Casey President, Electric Boat Vice President, General Dynamics
The Hon. Christopher J. Dodd U.S. Senator - Connecticut The Hon. Jack Reed U.S. Senator - Rhode Island The Hon. Lincoln D. Chafee U.S. Senator - Rhode Island The Hon. Robert R. Simmons U.S. Representative - Connecticut The Hon. James R. Langevin U.S. Representative - Rhode Island VADM Kirkland H. Donald, USN Commander, Naval Submarine Forces
Introduction of the Principal Speaker
The Hon. Gordon R. England Secretary of the Navy
The Hon. James R. Schlesinger
Introduction of Sponsor
President Jimmy Carter
Blessing of the Ship
CAPT Jane Vieira, CHC, USN
Matron of Honor
President, Electric Boat
President Carter's introduction of his wife
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Mark J. Denger
California Center for Military History