The Santa Barbara Navy League attended the christening of the newest U.S. Navy Virginia-class submarine, the Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) California (SSN 781) on November 6 in Newport News, Virginia. [link to official photograph]
Lin Graf, President of the Santa Barbara Council plus Dan Branch, National President of the Navy League, United States (NLUS) and his wife, Kathleen; Doug Crawford, Senior Director Corporate Development, NLUS; Lynn Behrens, Vice President of Operations, SBNL; Patricia A. Westberg, Public Affairs Officer, SBNL and her husband Capt. Robert J. Westberg, Jr., CEC, USN (Ret.) participated in this significant event for the officers, crew, and shipbuilders of the PCU California. Once this ship is commissioned in 2011, it will be referred to as the USS California (SSN781).
The Santa Barbara Council members were treated to a variety of events beginning with a sponsor’s dinner in celebration of the christening on the evening of November 5 at the Newport News Marriott, followed by the pre-ceremony breakfast, christening and reception the next day at the Northrup Grumman Shipbuilding facility in Newport News.
The submarine is the seventh Navy vessel (and the first submarine) to bear the name of the great state of California. The first was a screw sloop built in 1867. The most recent was a nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser (CGN 36) that was in service from February 1974 to July 1999. The most famous USS California was the Tennessee-class battleship (BB44) that was built at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California and it was sunk in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The ship was salvaged, reconstructed, and served again for the remainder of the war before being decommissioned in 1947. You can see this USS California ship’s bell on display in Sacramento, at the California State Capitol Museum.
The Santa Barbara Council of the Navy League is dedicated to the support of US Navy service members and other services. The council has adopted 13 units from all communities of the armed forces, including the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN76) and the USS Stockdale (DDG106).