Remarks by the Vice President at the Christening of the USS Indiana
Newport News Shipyard
Newport News, Virginia
11:59 A.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Acting Secretary Stackley, Mrs. Diane Donald and the Admiral, Admiral Fargo, Vice Admiral Tofalo, Vice Admiral Mulloy, Captain Lemon, Commander Zimbauer, Petty Officer Haugh, the crew members of the USS Indiana -- (applause) -- the present and the past members of the crew of the USS Indiana -- (applause) -- members of the United States Navy, distinguished guests, I bring greetings from your Commander-in-Chief, the President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
It is my great privilege on his behalf to join you here today for the christening of what will soon be the best-named boat in the United States Navy -- the USS Indiana. (Applause.)
Senator Donnelly, Congressman Scott, members of the Virginia delegation, members of the Indiana General Assembly who are with us here today, it is a real joy for me to be with you. As I served as governor of the state of Indiana, I learned of this extraordinary boat, but I could not have well imagined that I would be standing before you today in this moment with the great privilege to be at this christening. And I thank you all for being here and for the work that you have done to arrive at this moment. Christening the new USS Indiana just one day shy of the 75th anniversary of the dedication and christening of the last USS Indiana that feels providential to me. (Applause.)
So to Matt Mulherin, to Jeff Geiger, to Mike Petters, to Samuel Brandon, to the extraordinary craftsmen of Newport News Shipbuilding, let’s give these great builders a round of applause. This is impressive work. (Applause.)
Today marks the 100th day since President Donald Trump took his oath of office and I took mine. And he sent me here today on this historic occasion as a sign of his deep commitment to the Armed Forces of the United States of America -- and to his commitment to make the strongest fighting force in the world even stronger still. (Applause.)
It is the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Vice President to a President who is so dedicated to the men and women of our armed forces, to their families, to our veterans, and to the brave Americans who work tirelessly every day to support our military.
And that really includes all the shipbuilders that we just applauded a few moments ago.
For more than 120 years, the men and women gathered here -- many of you second-, and third-, and fourth-generation shipbuilders -- have built from the bottom up the American fleets that have fostered security and prosperity on the high seas and between our land and distant others.
Know today that you have the gratitude -- all the builders gathered here, you have the gratitude of our Commander-in-Chief for your unwavering commitment to your country, your patriotism, your craftsmanship, and rest assured President Trump will honor your commitment with historic investments in our national defense. (Applause.)
In just his first 100 days in office, President Trump has already taken decisive action to end an era of budget cuts to America’s military and to America’s security.
The President has actually submitted a budget which will rebuild our military, restore the arsenal of democracy. And we will move in the next year one of the largest increases in defense spending since the days of President Ronald Reagan. (Applause.)
And just next week, with President Trump’s leadership, and the strong support of the members of Congress gathered here today, Congress will pass a spending bill with long-overdue investments in our military readiness even before this fiscal year ends. That’s what leadership looks like.
At a time of mounting threats across the globe, President Trump has made it clear America’s national security is this President’s highest priority now and always. (Applause.)
Rest assured, President Trump will make the strongest fighting force in the world stronger still. For as history attests, when America is strong, the world is safe. And the USS Indiana will bear witness to this truth.
It really is deeply humbling for this son of Indiana to be here today at the christening of this mighty and majestic boat, the Virginia-class nuclear submarine, the USS Indiana. I have to tell you it’s more than a little bit emotional to me to be standing here in Newport News, seeing the Indiana flag fluttering just below the American flag behind you all. It makes me feel like I’m back home.
This boat bears the name, I can promise you, of one of the most patriotic states in America. And I truly believe that she reflects the unmatchable courage and the unwavering spirit of those Hoosiers past and present who have stood up and stepped forward to defend the flame of freedom.
For generations, stretching back into the mists of American history, the sons and daughters of Indiana have donned the uniform to serve our nation, and they have done so with distinction and with courage.
Our history books are filled with proof.
In the wake of World War Two, no less an authority than the United States Navy declared Indiana’s representation in the Navy was “extraordinary in quality,” with three of the seven admirals in 1944 hailing from the Hoosier State. The 12 stars they had between them shone bright not just on the Wabash, but on waves all across the world.
And the Navy’s recognition of Indiana’s service and sacrifice goes back even further.
The boat that sits beside me today is not the first to bear the name of USS Indiana, as we heard many times from this podium. Captain Zimbauer, you and the men and women who you will lead are the heirs of a long and proud tradition that reaches back to the 19th century.
One-hundred and twenty-six years ago, tomorrow, in 1891, the keel of the first USS Indiana was laid down in Philadelphia. Less than two years later, she steamed out of dry dock and into American history.
In the Spanish-American War, the USS Indiana joined the blockade of Santiago, where she helped sink two Spanish vessels and eliminated an entire fleet.
The second ship to bear the name was even more impressive. From 1939 to 1941, this very shipyard built and launched a second battleship emblazoned with USS Indiana on her seal.
From the Solomon Islands to Iwo Jima, she served on the frontlines of freedom and helped establish the foundation of peace and prosperity that reins in the Asia Pacific to this very day.
And I am humbled to say that these 14 members of that very crew are here with us today -- including I’m told two of her plank owners who were there at her commissioning -- Ozen Carrier and John Wright. Would you all mind giving a standing ovation one more time to the extraordinary crew of the USS Indiana and to those two plank holders who are with us today? (Applause.)
Men, I never saw your ship in all her glory, but she still lives on in the hearts and minds of Hoosiers, more than just memory. I can tell you the teak planks from her main deck were actually made into a beautiful desk that every Indiana governor has sat behind since 1964, me included. It was always very humbling for me to come to work every day at the Indiana State House and rest my elbows on the deck of a battleship. (Laughter.)
And now we turn the page to another chapter in the Hoosier history, and it will be just as proud. This USS Indiana -- the third to bear the name, and the first submarine -- is a worthy inheritor of the name and legacy of our state. And already she bears the mark of Indiana -- not just in her name, but from bow to stern.
More than 100 Hoosier businesses have contributed to this boat’s creation in one way or another. At least two members of her crew and four of her shipbuilders hail from our great state, and so many of volunteers for the commissioning committee call Indiana home. Would you mind giving all the Hoosiers who are here a big, big round of applause, especially those two on the crew? (Applause.)
I am personally grateful to everyone who has lent their talent, their time, and their treasure to the USS Indiana, and I know that President Trump is thankful as well.
This submarine is the most advanced to ever serve America. The steel within her skeleton -- all 7,600 tons -- and the steel in the hearts of her crew form the unbreakable, unshakeable backbone of American freedom.
When the USS Indiana goes to sea in just a few short weeks, she’ll give witness to our country’s strength of will and to our strength of arms. And as her sailors begin to fulfill their duty, they’ll do so, as the saying goes, “not for self, but for country” -- proving through their service and their sacrifice that those that stand before us in those emblazoned white uniforms, they are from the rest of us -- but they are the best of us. (Applause.)
We know they're ready. We pray that they never feel the heat of battle. But we’re grateful that the USS Indiana will be ready, will be there beneath the waves, the hidden chariot of the “Silent Victors,” faithfully guarding our freedom, faithfully guarding our way of life.
And so, on behalf of the Commander-in-Chief, President Donald Trump, we christen the USS Indiana. Today this humbled son of Indiana is truly grateful to have the opportunity to be with you today to see my beloved state and all of her people so aptly embodied in this extraordinary boat.
From this day forward, the spirit and the service of the Hoosier State will find a home on the seven seas in this majestic and mighty submarine, and in the proud crew who walk her decks. And only a few short months from now, when she completes her maiden voyage, the world will take note. For the USS Indiana signifies the enduring strength and leadership of the United States, a beacon of freedom in these stormy and uncertain times.
Know today that under President Donald Trump that beacon will shine bright, brighter than ever before. And with this President’s leadership, the United States I believe is entering a new era of security, prosperity, and strength.
And so I close with a word of confidence that with your help, with God’s help, with the USS Indiana at sea, and the great Armed Forces of the United States of America, and the valor and vigilance of all those who serve, that today we go forth to meet a glorious future together.
May God bless and protect the USS Indiana and all who serve aboard her every day beneath our seven seas. My God bless Indiana and may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
12:12 P.M. EDT