USS Iowa submarine to be christened Saturday

DES MOINES — A new Navy submarine named for the state of Iowa will be christened tomorrow morning at a shipyard in Connecticut.

“I’ve been to that shipyard many times. I’ve seen the submarine as its gone from individual pieces to a completed, welded together submarine that’s ready to be put into water and go to sea,” Tom Hudson, chairman of the USS Iowa Commissioning Committee said.

The ceremony starts at 9 a.m. Iowa time tomorrow. Former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack has been designated by the Navy as the ship’s sponsor. She’ll be the person breaking the champagne bottle over the submarine’s bow.

“The submarine will not slide down and go into the water,” Hudson said. “They don’t do that anymore, so this will just be a symbolic opportunity where the champagne bottle is broken and celebrated that the major construction milestone is done and sometime in the next few weeks the submarine will then be placed in the water and start its trials.”

The USS Iowa will be tested at sea for about a year before it’s officially commissioned and placed into service as an active warship.

Hudson spent 20 years on active duty in the Navy and he’s led the group of volunteers who’re raising money to support events like the christening and travel to Iowa for sailors who’ll serve on the USS Iowa. The group’s fundraising will also help outfit the sub with things like exercise equipment and mattresses for the sailors’ bunks that aren’t part of the construction budget.

“I served on board two different submarines during my career,” Hudson said. “That’s what kind of got me interested in participating in this program now that I’m retired, some way to get connected and stay in tune with what’s going on.”

Hudson will be out of state Saturday for a family event and will watch the sub’s christening online. Watch parties are also planned in nine Iowa cities at the following locations:

  • Gary Dolphin’s Iron Bar, 333 E. 10th St., Dubuque
  • El Kahir Shrine, 903 Tower Terrace Road, Hiawatha
  • Freedom Foundation of Cedar Rapids, 4001 Center Point Road NW, Cedar Rapids.
  • Iowa Gold Star Veterans Museum, Camp Dodge, 7105 NW 70th Ave., Des Moines.
  • American Legion Post 403, 910 Main St., Van Meter.
  • VFW Post 1856, 518 South 29th St., Fort Dodge.
  • Union County Development Associations, The Roundhouse, Building 301, 305 West Montgomery St., Creston.
  • American Legion Post 64, 4021 Floyd Blvd., Sioux City
  • American Legion Rainbow Post No. 2, 716 South 4th St., Council Bluffs.

Hudson says a link to the livestream of the event will be posted on this website on Saturday morning.