GROTON, Conn., Oct. 29 (UPI) -- First lady Michelle Obama was on hand Saturday during the commissioning of the U.S. Navy's newest fast-attack submarine USS Illinois, lauding the submarine "as complicated to operate as a space shuttle."
Obama, sponsor of the high-tech submarine, gave the order to "man our ship and bring her to life," the Navy said. As sponsor, Obama establishes "a special link to Illinois, her sailors, and their families that extends throughout the life of the submarine," the White House said. During the ceremony at the Naval Submarine Base New London, Obama said she was impress with the "Star Trek"-like ship, which is the most advanced ship in the Navy.
"This whole ship is just amazingly complicated to me. It's just incredible what this crew can do. You all are the definition of excellence," she said.
"I have to say this moment is a little bitter sweet for me because today marks our last event together, at least while I am first lady, the end of a journey that started more than two years ago," she added.
The Illinois is the 13th Virginia-class fast attack submarine and the third of eight Virginia-class Block III submarines. It has the capability to attack on-shore targets with Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert long-term surveillance of land and sea forces. It is also designed for special forces delivery and support.
"This next-generation attack submarine provides the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation's undersea supremacy well into the 21st century," the Defense Department said.