On Saturday, December 13, 2008, Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-Newport News will christen the
Virginia-class submarine New Mexico (SSN 779).
Mrs. Cindy Giambastiani is the ship's sponsor. Representative Heather Wilson, 1st District, New Mexico, will be the keynote speaker.
Not so very long ago, USS NEW MEXICO consisted of tapered hull sections in the Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard in Virginia and straight hull sections in General Dynamics Electric Boat's Quonset Point Facility in Rhode Island. With the help of a Sea Shuttle, all of these pieces, the largest being 34-ft in diameter and 100-ft long, have come together with precision accuracy in Newport News. With all heavy equipment loaded through the open ends of various modules, a process called "outfitting", NEW MEXICO started to take shape. Final assembly took place in bays 3 and 4 of the 10-story Module Outfitting Facility (MOF). After many months of serious welding, the fore and aft sections of the hull were completed. The forward section was moved sideways to bay 4 and aligned with the aft section. The final weld took weeks but on May 18, 2008, the shipyard declared NEW MEXICO's pressure hull complete. NEW MEXICO’s hull is finally one complete unit that stretches 377 feet from bow to stern. Placed in the UNM Football Stadium, she would completely fill the field and both end zones, and her bow would protrude 10 feet beyond the northern goalpost and her stern would be seven feet beyond the southern goalpost. Sitting in bay 4 of the MOF, with her bow pointed towards the James River, NEW MEXICO's link to the deep blue sea, work continues. The shiny bow dome houses a spherical sonar array. Tomahawk missiles will someday pass through the open hatches of the vertical launch tubes in the forward ballast tank. The temporary platform around the sail is facilitating the installation of photonic masts which replace conventional periscopes. Other equipment aft of the sail supports the remaining work in auxiliary machinery spaces, reactor compartment and engine room. USS NEW MEXICO now really looks like a submarine!