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Published November 01, 2013, 02:06 PM

USS North Dakota sub to be christened in Connecticut

GROTON, Conn. (AP) — The Navy is christening its newest attack submarine at a ceremony this weekend at the shipyard of Groton sub builder Electric Boat.

GROTON, Conn. (AP) — The Navy is christening its newest attack submarine at a ceremony this weekend at the shipyard of Groton sub builder Electric Boat.

The North Dakota is the Navy's 11th submarine in the Virginia class of ships, which have capabilities that allow them to perform better in shallow water than other subs and, among other features, a torpedo room that can be reconfigured to house large numbers of Navy SEALs.

Officials including members of North Dakota's congressional delegation were expected to attend the ceremony Saturday, which will mark its transition from a construction project to a ship that is nearly ready to join the Navy fleet.

"Naming such an important ship after our state is a tribute to North Dakota's incredible sense of patriotism and strong tradition of military service," said U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat who is traveling to Groton for the ceremony.

The commander of the Navy's submarine forces, Vice Adm. Michael Connor, will be the principal speaker at Saturday's ceremony.

The 377-foot-long, $2.6 billion nuclear submarine will be able to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles, deliver special forces and carry out surveillance over areas at land and sea. It is expected to formally join the fleet with a commissioning ceremony in May.

The submarine is the second Navy vessel to be named North Dakota. The last ship named for the state was a coal-fired, steam-powered battleship built in 1910. It was decommissioned in 1923 and sold for scrap in 1931.

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