Updated: 11/03/2013 4:34 PM KSTP.com By: Joe Mazan
The USS Minnesota joined the Navy's fleet of attack submarines on Saturday during a ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk. The Minnesota is the 10th Virginia class submarine, which was specifically designed for the post-Cold War era.
Both young and old gathered to witness the most powerful vessel our nation has ever seen with the Minnesota namesake.
Among the crowd was a mother filled with joy and pride. "He’s made me very proud, very happy. He's done a good job in the Navy," said Mary Findlay who talked about her son Tony.
Tony Findlay is a White Bear Lake High School graduate, and is one of the few Minnesotans to serve aboard.
There was also a wife, with a close connection to the sub's commanding officer who attended the ceremony. “It's a really exciting day for all of us, our family, even friends of family back in Minnesota-- being that I’m from Minnesota”, said Amy Fancher, an Edina High School graduate, who is married to Captain John Fancher.
Last month 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS was only Minnesota media allowed aboard the submarine as it headed out to sea for training.
The 377-foot long ship is capable of submerged speeds of more than 29 mph and can stay submerged for up to three months at a time. Virginia class submarines like the Minnesota are especially maneuverable in shallow waters, and were designed with plenty of room for special forces and their equipment to come aboard.
Like other classes of attack submarines, the Minnesota is designed to fight enemy submarines and surface ships and can also fire Tomahawk cruise missiles at targets on shore.
The U.S. is building two Virginia-class submarines a year, at a cost of about $2.6 billion each. So far, those submarines have been delivered ahead of schedule.
The Minnesota was delivered to the Navy in June, 11 months earlier than the original contract called for.
The ship will spend several months in Norfolk before moving to its designated home port of Groton, Conn.
The submarine is the third Navy ship to bear the name Minnesota, with the first being a steam frigate during the Civil War and the second a battleship that part of the 'Great White Fleet' President Theodore Roosevelt ordered to sail around the world.
Memorabilia from the first two Minnesota ships was on display at Saturday's commissioning.
The Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said that he considers the USS Minnesota priceless.
The Associated Press Contributed to this report.