Carper, Coons, Carney welcome the announcement of USS Delaware

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Tom Carper, Chris Coons and Congressman John Carney (all D-Del.) welcomed the announcement of the naming of the Naval submarine, the USS Delaware.

In May, Delaware's Congressional Delegation sent a letter to Naval Secretary Ray Mabus to encourage him to name a submarine after the state of Delaware following a letter to the editor that appeared in the News Journal encouraging the delegation to take up the cause of getting this vessel named after the State of Delaware.

"This is an important day for Delaware as we welcome the USS Delaware to our proud family," said Sen. Carper, a 23-year veteran of the Navy. "It is a great source of joy to me that the vessel that will bear the name of Delaware will be one of the most state-of-the-art submarines in the world. If we want to continue to protect our military might and protect our shipping lanes so that we can conduct commerce around the world, we are going to need fast attack submarines like the USS Delaware. " 

"Delaware's rich naval tradition has played a significant role in our nation's history and it is an honor to see it recognized with the naming of the USS Delaware," Senator Coons said. "This submarine will not only serve as a state-of-the-art component of our national security, but as a symbol honoring all Delawareans who have served our country. Secretary Mabus has my thanks and the brave men who will one day serve on the Delaware have my deepest respect and gratitude." 

"Today is a great day for Delaware, particularly for our veterans and those currently serving in the armed forces," said Congressman Carney.  "Many Delawareans have proudly served in the United States Navy, and naming this state-of-the-art submarine the USS Delaware is a tribute to their dedication and sacrifice.  I'm very proud that this vessel, which will play an important role in maintaining the nation's defense and strengthening the economy, will bear the name of our state." 

A copy of the letter follows:

May 22, 2012

The Honorable Ray Mabus
Secretary of the Navy 
2000 Navy Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20250-2000

Dear Secretary Mabus, 

We write today to encourage you to consider naming a submarine after the state of Delaware.

Long before 10,000 Delawareans built hundreds of ships along the bank of the Christiana River during WWII to help win that war, Delaware played an important role in maritime history, a role that the Navy would enrich today by naming a newly constructed submarine the USS Delaware. Before we became the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, Delaware served as the staging ground for the Continental Navy's first maritime mission. In January of 1776, Esek Hopkins, the Continental Navy's first and only Commander-in-Chief, ordered a convoy assembled in the Delaware Bay off of Lewes, Delaware. This flotilla sailed out of the Delaware Capes bound for Nassau, Bahamas, marking the first development of U.S. Navy forces in our country's history. Similarly, one of the earliest naval encounters, if not the earliest, of the Revolutionary War took place off Lewes, Delaware, when the British warship HMS Roebuck was repelled by local pilots who kept the ship from advancing up the Delaware Bay.

During the War of 1812, Delaware and its citizens played key roles in our country's naval battles, as well. Naval forces stationed at Lewes, Delaware protected critically important powder works on the Brandywine River near Wilmington, Delaware. In a famous naval encounter, Delaware-born Commodore Jacob Jones commanded the USS Wasp as it survived an ambush by the British ship HMS Frolic and responded by capturing the British warship. Commodore Jones received a Congressional Gold Medal for his leadership in this battle. Additionally, in 1814 Delaware-native Commodore Thomas McDonough earned this distinction as the "Hero of the Lake Champlain" for the successful defense of the strategically important Otter Creek shipyard from advancing British ships.

At the onset of World War I, the U.S. Navy established a presence at Cape Henlopen on the Delaware coast. This Naval Section Base and its forces were in charge of defending our coast lines from enemy ships conducting mine sweeping operations. After World War II, Cape Henlopen evolved its defensive operations to become the site of the U.S. Navy Sound Surveillance System Station, which was responsible for monitoring coastal naval threats, especially Soviet submarines during the Cold War. Among its commanders was Lieutenant Commander Margaret Fredrick, who was one of the first female commanding officers in the U.S. Navy.

Despite this history, Delaware has gone too long without a naval vessel bearing its name. The last ship, the USS Delaware (BB-28), was decommissioned nearly 90 years ago on November 10, 1923, after thirteen years of service. Since that time, 42 other states have had U.S. naval vessels named after them, according to the records in the Naval Vessel Registry. Fifteen of those states have had two of more vessels carry their state's name since the USS Delaware's decommissioning. Of the eight states without ships named for them during this time, Delaware is one of only three states that do not currently have a ship named after them until very recently, the USS Portland and USS Salt Lake City; however, the last ship named for a Delaware city-the USS Wilmington-was decommissioned in 1945.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Delaware is currently home to 73,000 veterans, many of whom have served their country in the U.S. Navy. These veterans, as well as the thousands of Delawareans currently serving on active duty as members of the U.S. Armed Forces in Delaware, deserves to be honored for their service and sacrifice. One small thing we can do to pay tribute to the service of each of them is to name a future submarine after their home state.

We thank you in advance for your consideration of this request, and we look forward to working with you to achieve this most worthwhile goal. 

Sincerely, 

Thomas R. Carper
United States Senator

Christopher A. Coons
United States Senator

John Carney
Member of Congress 

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