Jill Biden, second lady of the U.S. 2009-17, Sen. Tom Carper and Gov. John Carney celebrated the christening of the USS Delaware on Oct. 22.

The USS Delaware is the first Navy ship to be named for Delaware since 1923 and the seventh vessel to bear its name overall.

At the Newport News Shipyard in Newport News, Virginia, Biden, Carper and Carney highlighted Delaware’s naval history dating back to the Revolutionary War, when the Delaware Bay served as the staging ground for the Continental Navy’s first marine mission in 1776. Biden, Carper and Carney also welcomed a submarine to Delaware’s military family, thanked those who would sail it and honored those who have served and protected the country throughout its history, especially Delaware veterans.

“One of my life’s greatest honors is being part of the USS Delaware family and your shipmate for life. But I simply represent the people of Delaware who take great pride in this submarine and will stand by its crew and their families,” said Biden, sponsor of the USS Delaware.

“Our Constitution — first ratified by Delaware — is the most enduring and replicated constitution in the history of the world. But as revered as our Constitution is by all of us, it would just be words to serve their country in uniform on a piece of paper without the courage and commitment of one generation of Americans after another who have been willing to step forward to serve their country in uniform, to risk their lives, and, in many cases, lay down their lives so that we might know the liberties that we enjoy today,” said Carper, the keynote speaker. “With the christening of the USS Delaware, we honor them all as a new generation of American sailors prepares to take this state of the art submarine through its sea trial and eventually to seas throughout the world over the next half-century, protecting our democracy and helping to preserve our planet.”

“This is a proud day for Delaware,” said Carney. “To Cmdr. Brian Hogan and the 135 officers and crew members who will serve aboard the USS Delaware, we thank you for your service to our great country and our national defense. It is a great honor for all Delawareans to be associated with this submarine, its commander and its entire crew.”

In 2012, a letter to the editor published in The News Journal, submitted by Delawarean Steven Llanso, prompted Sens. Carper and Chris Coons and then-Congressman Carney to send a letter to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus encouraging him to consider naming a submarine after Delaware. Later that same year, the Delaware congressional delegation welcomed the announcement of the naming of the Naval submarine, the USS Delaware. Biden, Carper and Carney participated in the keel-laying ceremony — the formal recognition of the start of a ship’s construction — in April 2016.

The USS Delaware was built by Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries and General Dynamics Electric Boat. Nearly 4,000 shipbuilders supported the construction of the USS Delaware, and the ship will have about 135 officers and crew onboard. The USS Delaware will be commanded by Hogan. The ship’s motto is “First Defenders of Liberty.”

The USS Delaware is the 18th boat of the Virginia-class. Virginia-class submarines are capable of submerged speeds in excess of 25 knots and are able to stay submerged for up to three months at a time. Virginia-class submarines are armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, MK-48 torpedoes, advanced mobile mines and an unmanned undersea vehicle.

Biden, Carper and Carney were joined on stage at the christening ceremony by Jennifer Boykin, president, Newport News Shipbuilding; Kurt Hesch, chief operating officer, General Dynamics Electric Boat; Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Virginia,; VADM Richard Snyder, Naval inspector general; James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy; RADM John W. Tammen, director, Undersea Warfare Division; Capt. Jason Lloyd, commanding officer and supervisor of shipbuilding, Newport News Shipbuilding; Hogan, commanding officer, USS Delaware; and Leslie Hogan, matron of honor, USS Delaware.

While the ceremony in Newport News was closed to the public, Delawareans were able to take part in the festivities at three watch parties around the state sponsored by Carper. Watch parties were held at Wilmington University in Dover, Delaware Technical Community College’s Stanton Campus in Newark and Delaware Technical Community College’s Owens Campus in Georgetown.

To view the broadcast, visit bit.ly/2S9bNwf.