Many citizens from a landlocked state are beaming over the U.S. Navy’s newest member of its fleet.
South Dakotans will join the military and others across the nation Saturday in christening the new $ 2.5 billion nuclear submarine, the USS South Dakota.
Appropriately, the ceremony will be in a Connecticut community named Groton.
The sub was named for South Dakota to honor its citizens who have strongly supported the U.S. military in so many ways, especially those who have served.
Again, extremely appropriate. South Dakota is a place where holidays such as Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day mean something special, with big and small ceremonies in big and small towns across the state each May and November. There are also numerous war memorials across the state — many in the form of bronze sculptures at cemeteries and town squares and parks.
To mark the christening of the USS South Dakota, a group of motorcyclists carrying an American flag last weekend rode through this region, including Aberdeen and Groton. The bikers were led by retired U.S. Navy Commander Wiley Cress of Rapid City.
The flag again was used as part of a Monday ceremony in Sioux Falls to unveil the USS South Dakota commemorative 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Glide. The motorcycle was donated by the Harley-Davidson Motor Co. to help celebrate the new Navy submarine and honor South Dakota’s motorcycle heritage that is so deeply rooted in the annual Sturgis rally.
That same flag and commemorative Harley-Davidson motorcycle also are scheduled to be part of Saturday’s christening ceremony.
Construction of the Virginia-class submarine began in March 2013. It offers the nation’s latest technology, and is being treasured for its increased stealth capabilities with quieter machinery.
Earlier this year, crew members of the new USS South Dakota attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally to tell their stories of the submarine, promote the South Dakota name and participate in a proud state tradition that attracts visitors worldwide to the Black Hills.
Belle Joli Sparkling Wine House will provide the bubbly for Saturday’s christening ceremony. The wine is 100 percent South Dakota-made as the grapes are grown in Belle Fourche.
This will be the Navy’s fourth vessel named in honor of the 40th state, according to Wikipedia:
• The first USS South Dakota sailed under that name from 1908 to 1920, before being renamed the USS Huron. That ship, which escorted troops and convoys during World War I, was decommissioned in 1927.
• The USS South Dakota BB-49 was planned as the lead ship of her class of six battleships. However, that entire class of ships was canceled one-third of the way through their construction due to a limiting arms race treaty signed by the U.S. and other nations.
• The most famous USS South Dakota was battleship BB-57. It was one of our nation’s most decorated battleships during World War II.
That ship was commissioned in 1942 and decommissioned in 1947. Parts of that ship are on display in Sioux Falls.
It’s true that some South Dakotans might not like their state’s name being associated with a war machine such as a nuclear submarine. But remember, this sub was going to be built regardless of its name.
This is another symbolic link between our state, our Navy, our military and those who are and have served. We can never say it enough to all military personnel, current and past: thank you.
We hope the USS South Dakota serves only as a stern warning and that the brave women and men who will make the sub run will never have to use it in wartime.
—American News Editorial Board