Commissioning ceremony for Navy's newest submarine postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic

The commissioning ceremony for the submarine Vermont, set to take place in Groton next month, has been postponed indefinitely, given the outbreak of COVID-19.

"Regretfully, due to public health safety and restrictions of large public events, the commissioning ceremony for the future USS Vermont (SSN 792) is canceled for April 18, 2020. The commissioning will take place administratively, and the ship will begin normal operations with the fleet,” Jodie Cornell, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy’s submarine force in the Atlantic, said in an email Wednesday.

“The Navy values the support of all those who were planning to attend and will look for a future opportunity to commemorate this special event with the sponsor, crew and commissioning committee,” she said.

Commissioning ceremonies, which typically attract thousands of guests, including dignitaries, crew members and their families, and shipbuilders, mark a ship’s entry into active service.

Electric Boat in Groton and Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia, both deemed essential businesses during the coronavirus pandemic by federal and state governments, given their work in support of national security, jointly build Virginia-class fast-attack submarines like the Vermont, with each shipyard alternating delivery to the Navy. The Vermont will be delivered by EB.

Earlier this year, an issue arose with how work was being documented on the Vermont, prompting the two shipbuilders to pause to review their protocols and ensure the problem doesn’t happen again.

Work has since continued and the Vermont recently returned from its initial sea trials, known as alpha trials, the first major test of a submarine’s capabilities at sea, including submerging for the first time and high-speed maneuvers while on the surface and underwater. The trials also test all components and systems on a submarine.

j.bergman@theday.com

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