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Vice President Pence to visit Newport News shipyard

Hugh Lessig

Vice President Mike Pence will speak at Newport News Shipbuilding on Saturday, April 29, to mark the christening of a submarine named after his home state of Indiana.

The news came in a media advisory on Friday from the shipyard, which in February hosted President Donald Trump aboard the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford.

The future USS Indiana is a Virginia-class attack submarine that the Newport News shipyard built in a teaming arrangement with General Dynamics Electric Boat of Groton, Conn. Under terms of the Virginia-class program, each yard assembles components of the sub and takes turns in assembly and delivery to the Navy.

The christening ceremony will not be open to the public, but shipyard parent Huntington Ingalls Industries will provide a live broadcast to news outlets via satellite. The company will also provide a webcast. The event will start at 11 a.m.

To christen the sub, ship sponsor Diane Donald will smash a bottle of American sparkling wine across the ship's hull. Donald is the wife of retired Adm. Kirk Donald.

Virginia-class submarines are in high demand by Navy commanders, and the two-shipyard partnership has been recognized as successful, consistently meeting or exceeding schedule and budget goals. To save money and allow the shipyards to plan ahead, the Navy awards contracts in "blocks" for multiple subs at a a time.

Indiana will be the sixth submarine of the Block III purchase. These boats incorporate improvements from previous submarines. Overall, Indiana will be the 16th Virginia-class boat and the eighth to be delivered by Newport News.

Construction began in 2012 with 4,000 shipbuilders participating. It is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy later this year.

Newport News Shipbuilding is Virginia's largest industrial employer with some 20,000 workers. Parent HII also operates Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss. The two yards combine to make HII America's largest military shipbuilding company.

Lessig can be reached by phone at 757-247-7821.

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