USS Missouri officers visit MU to establish ship, school relationship

Thursday, April 2, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT
MU tour guide Dave Thiessen explains the benefits of the Student Success Center to Cmdr. Dale Green, who will be captain of the USS Missouri, during a campus tour for the crew members of the submarine Wednesday. The crew was on campus to foster a relationship with their submarine's namesake state.

COLUMBIA — Commander Dale Green, Lieutenant Justin Hardy and Master Chief Reginald "Chevy" Brown visited MU on Wednesday to build the relationship between their new submarine, the USS Missouri, and its namesake.

The USS Missouri is currently under construction in Groton, Conn., and will become part of the U.S. Navy when it is commissioned in late summer 2010.

Past USS Missouris

The first USS Missouri, launched in 1861, burned in an accident off the shores of Gibraltar.

The second USS Missouri was a Confederate ironclad boat that was destroyed when the U.S. Navy took possession of all Confederate ships at the end of the Civil War.

The third USS Missouri, commissioned in 1903, was part of President Theodore Roosevelt's Great White Fleet, a group of ships that circumnavigated the globe between 1907 and 1909 to showcase the Navy's might.

The fourth USS Missouri was the site of the Japanese surrender that ended World War II, and is now part of the museum at Pearl Harbor.

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"There are a lot of political things" that go into naming a sub, said Green, who will be sub's captain. Green said Missouri representatives Ike Skelton and Todd Akin's involvement in the House Armed Services Committee helped put Missouri's name on the Navy's newest submarine.

Hardy, the assistant weapons officer for the sub, said "there's quite a bit of tradition with the name."

The sub will be the fifth Navy ship and first submarine to be named Missouri.

Japanese forces surrendered at the end of World War II on the last USS Missouri, a battleship, which is now part of the memorial museum at Pearl Harbor.

The USS Missouri is the seventh Virginia-class submarine to be built, Green said. Virginia class subs are 337 feet long and can travel at speeds faster than 25 knots, Green said.

Hardy said Virginia-class subs are "built for the Nintendo generation." All displays on the ship have advanced from classic cathode ray tube screens with dials and buttons underneath to flat-panel displays with touch screen control. The photonics mast, which has replaced traditional periscopes, uses digital cameras to provide clearer images than a periscope could deliver.

"Periscopes used to be what you imagined in World War II or an old movie where somebody would spin around in a circle on a periscope. Now, it's a guy with a joystick and a TV screen," Hardy said.

Virginia-class submarines can also be modified more easily than earlier subs. 

The ability to upgrade software means that updating the sub will be "much easier, much cheaper to do than it is to upgrade clunking hardware on previous submarines," Hardy said.

The Missouri is also specifically designed to carry special operations teams such as Navy SEALs. The submarine will have the capability to link with a SEAL minisub and carry the crew closer to their destination before launching.

Currently, the majority of the Navy's submarine fleet consists of Los Angeles-class subs, the first of which was commissioned in 1976.

Sam Bushman, the chair of the sub's commissioning committee, previously served on commissioning committees for the USS Harry S Truman and the USS Jefferson City.

Bushman said the committee plans to incorporate as many Missouri products as possible into the ceremony, including Gates Barbecue Stone Hill Winery sparkling wine.

Bushman said "everyone's invited for the commissioning," which will be held in Groton.

"It's a big party," Green said.

Green said he has strong conviction that the relationship between the submarine and the state will continue in the future.

He said he believes "the more that we can do to get people to understand what the military is doing, the better they can understand how we are supporting the nation as a whole."

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