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Published September 06, 2013, 11:26 AM

Duluth native proud to serve on new USS Minnesota

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — The U.S. Navy hasn't had a ship named Minnesota for 92 years, and a Duluth native is proud he'll be aboard when the Navy sets things straight.

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — The U.S. Navy hasn't had a ship named Minnesota for 92 years, and a Duluth native is proud he'll be aboard when the Navy sets things straight.

Machinists Mate 1st Class Ted Collette is one of 134 crew members of the nuclear-powered submarine USS Minnesota, which will be commissioned Saturday in Norfolk, Va.

Serving on the USS Minnesota "and being from Minnesota, that's icing on the cake," Collette told the Duluth News Tribune by telephone Thursday. "I bring my hometown with me everywhere I go, and this really keeps me part of that."

The 31-year-old works as the leading petty officer among 13 sailors responsible for operating and maintaining the steam engines that propel the sub and provide the electricity that runs everything on board.

Collette joined the Navy 10 days after graduating from Duluth East High School in 2000, following in something of a family tradition. His father served on two destroyers in the 1970s and his grandfather served in the U.S. Marine Reserves.

"We had talked about it (joining the Navy) a little. But when he told us he was doing it, we were a little shocked he had made up his mind so fast," said his mother, Barb Collette. "But he always succeeded at everything he tried; he was always outgoing. We knew he would succeed at this, too."

Collette's first sea duty was on a similar sub, the USS Norfolk.

"I ended up liking the Navy, and liking the nuclear field. ... I've been in this 13 years and I have at least another 11 years to go," Collette said.

Collette said the crew has been rehearsing for the commissioning ceremony. But they also have been busy at sea, running the submarine through trials. That will continue throughout 2013, he said.

"But we are battle-ready if we are called on," Collette said.

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