ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The last time the U.S. Navy had a ship named after the gopher state Teddy Roosevelt was in the White House. In 1905, the coal-burning battleship USS Minnesota entered the fleet. It would eventually see service in World War I and was finally decommissioned in 1922.
Fast forward a full century and soon 120 submariners will be cruising around in the latest class of nuclear powered subs. The USS Minnesota is now under construction in Newport News, Va. and is scheduled for commissioning in late 2013.
When it takes to the seas it will be in the hands of Navy Commander John Fancher.
“When we’re going around the world and we’re trying to remember what we’re doing it for, one of the things we’re doing it for is the support that we get from the state,” Fancher explained.
On the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol, Fancher would visit the state and perform a swear-in ceremony for eight of the Navy’s newest recruits. Standing tall and raising her right hand was Bloomington’s Amanda Matson.
“I’d absolutely love to be assigned on the USS Minnesota to show I’m from Minnesota and that I’d like to show ’em what we’re about,” Matson said.
Matson will soon enter a U.S. Navy that can claim the most sophisticated fleet of submarines ever built. The Minnesota, now under construction, will become number 10 of 30 Virginia Class fast-attack subs.
While it has its name, the Minnesota is still lacking a proper logo. That’s important, because it is the patch worn by sailors on their uniforms and will become the identifying image of the submarine.
To get the design process started Fancher will announce a contest at Monday’s Minnesota Twins game against the Red Sox.
High school and college students, ages 16 to 22, will have until Nov. 1 to give the USS Minnesota an emblem fitting of its pride and prestige. It should capture the essence of what makes the state so unique.
The submarine’s second in command is a Minnesota-native from the town of Brandon near Alexandria. He understands the importance of designing the logo.
“We’re looking for creative license to again take aspects of Minnesota that represent the state and merge it with Navy traditions. So just about anything goes,” said Lt. Cmdr. Craig Hempeck.
To see the rules of the competition and to learn more about the USS Minnesota visit the submarine’s website by clicking here.