MASON CITY, Iowa - A new submarine named after the state of Iowa will soon be pressed into service.
The USS Iowa (SSN 797) will be a nuclear submarine, the 24th in the Virginia class being produced, is currently under construction in Groton, Connecticut. The fast attack submarine weighs approximately 7,800 tons, and will have 135 crew members on board.
Retired Captain Peter Welch is part of the USS Iowa's commissioning committee. He says naming a new member of America's fleet goes deeper than a submarine.
"It's the naming and the creation of the body of the young men and women that are manning the Iowa and bringing it to life, making it a character, giving it personality. They're state ambassadors wherever they go."
To that point, the crew is involved in events back in Iowa, including RAGBRAI, Bix7, and damage cleanup left behind from last year's derecho, to show how to truly represent the Hawkeye State.
"Every one of these Iowa crew members that has come back to Iowa has learned about Iowa nice and Iowa strong. One of the nice things is that they clamored to come back."
Christie Vilsack, the wife of former Iowa Governor and current U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is the sponsor of the ship. The official christening is not expected until next March or April, and commissioned a year later.
The Navy has used the name USS Iowa five times, but only two named battleships were placed into service. During the Civil War era, a converted merchant ship was named the USS Iowa, but was never activated and was quickly scrapped.