MARCH 16: Keel Laying Ceremony
John Warner (SSN 785) is the 12th Virginia-class fast attack submarine and the sixth to be delivered to the U.S. Navy by Newport News Shipbuilding. While other Virginia-class submarines have been named after U.S. states, SSN 785 holds the distinction of being named after a person—a man who has served his country throughout his entire adult life as a Navy enlisted sailor, a Marine lieutenant, Secretary of the Navy and a U.S. Senator of Virginia.
During the keel laying ceremony, the senator and his wife, Jeanne Warner, who is the Ship's Sponsor, authenticated the keel by chalking their initials onto a metal plate. Their initials were then welded onto a plate that will be permanently affixed to the ship.
Laying the keel is the symbolic beginning of building the ship, originating from the large structural beam (or keel) that serves as the foundation or spine of the ship's hull. Although modular construction techniques mean that the ship is no longer built from the bottom up, the keel laying is still celebrated as a momentous event in the ship's construction.
Ship's Sponsor: Jeanne Warner
Jeanne Warner was born in London, England to American parents, lived in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth, South Africa until she was 16 and then moved to the United States. She graduated from the Ohio State University and moved to Alexandria, Virginia in 1964. She has been a Realtor in the Northern Virginia area for 24 years. She married Senator John Warner in 2003 and they reside in the Belle Haven community in Alexandria. Jeanne is on the board of the Alexandria Symphony and actively supports many local charities. She is also the sponsor of the nuclear-powered submarine John Warner (SSN 785).