South Dakota, 17th Virginia-class submarine, to be christened in Groton Saturday

Groton — The 17th Virginia-class submarine, South Dakota (SSN-790), will be christened on Saturday at Electric Boat's headquarters here.

Deanie Dempsey, wife of retired Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will play a central role in Saturday's christening as South Dakota's sponsor, breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the boat's hull. When a ship's sponsor breaks the bottle, she is said to be imparting her spirit on the boat.

Virginia-class fast attack submarines take about five years to build. South Dakota is expected to join the fleet in the summer/fall of 2018.

Several thousand people — mostly yard workers, sailors and their families — are expected to attend Saturday's christening, which is by invitation only.

There will be a live webcast starting at 9:30 a.m. at www.gdeb.com. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. and is expected to last until 11:15 a.m. The program will be available for on-demand replay for one week, beginning at approximately 2:30 p.m. EST Saturday.

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