LAVAYETTE, Ind. — Being tight-lipped about submarines and the boats’ capabilities are trademarks of the “silent service,” but a statewide tour to gin up support for the USS Indiana is anything but silent.

“Indiana is a new submarine that is getting built. She commissions in 2018,” Cmdr. Jesse Zimbauer said Monday during a meet and greet at a downtown restaurant.

“We’re trying to build a connection between us and the state,” he said, explaining that the keel was laid in May 2015, and they just celebrated the last weld on the hull. “She’s just about ready to go to sea and float off, so we’re raising awareness.”

Zimbauer, who is the boat’s commanding officer, and a few other members of the boat’s crew, along with members of the commissioning committee stopped in Lafayette on Monday and Tuesday, including a visit Monday at Caterpillar where the nuclear boat’s backup diesel engines were made.

Ray Shearer, the chairman of the USS Indiana Commissioning Committee, said there are more than 50 Hoosier manufacturers that build parts for the Navy’s submarine fleet.

“From small companies to large companies, it’s Hoosier companies building this boat as well,” Shearer said.

“Who knew Indiana was in the submarine business?” Zimbauer joked.

The commissioning committee is tasked with supporting the boat and its sailors after it’s launched. But the committee is also charged with funding a wide array of social events surrounding the commissioning ceremony, Shearer said. To that end, those who would like to support the crew and the boat may donate at ussindiana.org or at ssn789.org.

Lee Muller, vice chairman of the USS Indiana Commissioning Committee, served 30 years in the Navy, much of that time on board submarines.

“It’s quite an honor,” Muller said of the boat named for the state. “It’s been 75 years since there’s been a ship named for Indiana.”

The last USS Indiana was a South Dakota Class battleship commissioned in November 1941.

“To have a ship named after your state or city is quite a rare event these days,” Muller said.

For now, Zimbauer, his officers and non-commissioned officers are busy preparing the boat and training the 140-member crew. It is expected to be commissioned in January or February 2018.

When that day comes, the USS Indiana becomes the latest attack submarine to join a fleet of Virginia Class submarines replacing the old Los Angeles Class attack submarines. And since quietness is essential to survival, the Indiana will have all of the latest technology.

“I can say without a doubt that when Indiana goes to sea, it will be the stealthiest, quietest submarine in the world,” Zimbauer said. “It’s going to be a huge advantage for the United States.

“Every time we put one of these Virginia Class submarines to sea, the balance of power changes in our favor.”


Source: (Lafayette) Journal & Courier, http://on.jconline.com/2cGX34e


Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com

This is an AP-Indiana Exchange story offered by the (Lafayette) Journal & Courier.