A group of Dover business leaders, advocates and veterans have founded a nonprofit to support the crew of the first state’s namesake nuclear warship, the USS Delaware.
The Delaware Submarine Association has joined the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce and is ramping up operations as the submarine it sponsors awaits deployment instructions in Groton, Connecticut.
According to a press release issued Thursday, “the role of the Delaware Submarine Association is to support the morale, well-being and recreation of the crew of the USS Delaware, as well as to encourage, advocate, and generate statewide support for the crew of the submarine.”
The group also hopes to educate the citizens of Delaware about the state’s namesake warship and educate the ship’s crew about the natural and historical heritage of the State of Delaware.
The USS Delaware (SSN-791) is the first ship to bear Delaware’s name in nearly a century, although six boats have gone by the name “USS Delaware” since 1775.
The first ship to bear the state’s name was built in 1775 and served the Continental Army for two years before she was captured by the British Royal Navy.
The submarine is the first U.S. military ship to ever be commissioned underwater after the standard commissioning ceremony was cancelled due to public health concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
The USS Delaware is 377 feet long, 33 feet wide and displaces 7,800 metric tons of water. The submarine is operated by a crew of 15 officers and 117 enlisted crew members.
“While the USS Delaware bears our great state’s name, its crew is composed of men from around the country,” the press release said. “The ship’s crew has one goal in mind: protecting and defending the United States and its great mission around the globe. It is our job to ensure the crew has a fundamental understanding of the State of Delaware’s history; that the crew might be proud of the name their ship bears.”
The group’s chair is submarine veteran and Dover business owner Gary Wallick. Wallick is the vice president of Torbert Funeral Chapel and president of St. Jones Mini Storage.
“We are so excited for the opportunity to support the USS Delaware’s crew and the U.S. Navy’s mission of protecting our seas.” Wallick said. “Our board of directors intends to participate in local events and work with community leaders to educate the Delaware community about this magnificent ship.”
Former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus named First Lady Jill Biden as the ship’s sponsor when construction was completed in 2017.
The Delaware Submarine Association is currently raising funds to purchase the USS Delaware a ceremonial bell. The commemorative bell of the last warship to bear Delaware’s name, BB-28, stands outside of the State Archives building in Dover.
For more information about the Delaware Submarine Association, click here.
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