Pre-Christening Reception at Subforce Museum

March 15th, 2024

Subforce Museum

Idaho Governor Brad Little, members of the USS IDAHO Commissioning Committee and its advisory board, subvets, tremendous donors and Idahoans gathered with the crew to celebrate the christening of the future USS IDAHO at the Subforce Museum in Groton, Connecticut on Friday, March 15.

Subvets -Travis Dryden - Simplot Co

A group of U.S. Navy Veteran Submariners, lovingly referred to as “Old Salts,” enjoying a storytelling session. Photo by Travis Dryden/Simplot Co.

Guests sampled Idaho beverages, such as 44 North's huckleberry vodka and lemonade cocktail, and SPUD Juice. SPUD Juice stands for "Special Purpose Underwater Drink," a beer developed by Idaho's Sockeye Brewing and Groton's Outer Light Brewing Company to commemorate the christening of the USS IDAHO. Guests also tasted delicious New England clam chowder and other regional treats.

USS IDAHO Commissioning Committee Chair Richard Colburn gave introductory remarks and was followed by former Idaho Governor and Advisory Board Chair Dirk Kempthorne. USS IDAHO Commander Randall Leslie assured the assembled guests: "The ship looks amazing."

Commander Leslie continued to commend his crew of young sailors, who are responsible for the $2.7B submarine and its nuclear reactor. "It takes a team to take a submarine out to sea. It takes a team to have a warship with the spirit that Idaho has," said Commander Leslie.

"I've been touched on each of the two trips I've made to the State of Idaho. I've met phenomenal people who have treated me and my crew, in many cases, like family. I welcome you all to Groton. I welcome you as part of the USS IDAHO family. Thank you for the support. Thank you for the attendance. Thank you for everything that you've done and will continue to do for the ship."

Idaho Governor Brad Little followed Commander Leslie and said, "For those that have served, those that are serving, and those that will serve, we are in a continual quest to make a more perfect union. And we can't make a more perfect union if we can't defend it -- if we can't project the strength which that ship is going to project all over the world. That's what's made this country great in the past, and that's what's going to make it greater in the future."

Colburn, Kempthorne, Leslie

Outer Light Brewing Co and Sockeye Brewing collaborated to make SPUD Juice to commemorate the christening.

SPUD Juice

(l. to r.) Sockeye's Ben Sopchak and Outer Light's Kurt Delaney and Tom Drejer. Photo by Laura Barton.

Governor Brad Little, Tom and Mary Glynn Wilford

Governor Brad Little chats with advisory board member Tom and Mary Glynn Wilford. Photo by Travis Dryden/Simplot Co.

CDR Randall Leslie and Subforce Museum guests.

CDR Randall Leslie and reception guests listen to the presentations. Photo by Laura Barton.

Subforce Museum merch table

Commissioning Committee members Bob Brady, Tom Dale, Barry Oglesbee, Marv Hagedorn, and Mat Tanner had coins, caps, and sweatshirts for sale. Photo by Laura Barton.

Ship's sponsor Terry Stackley thanked the Idahoans who traveled to the christening for "the support and dedication and patriotism you all have shown me while I visited Idaho" and added, "You all are like family to me now and I'm proud to say that I am an adopted Idahoan."

USS IDAHO sponsor Terry Stackley and Governor Kempthorne closed the evening by leading the guests in singing "God Bless America." Then Commander Leslie led the guests in the USS IDAHO battle cry: "Let it be! Forever! Let it be! Forever! Let it be! Forever! Sink Boats. Cutthroats!"

Nez Perce Elder Brooklyn Baptiste and LTJG Alex Boxmeyer

Nez Perce Elder Brooklyn Baptiste and LTJG Alex Boxmeyer enjoy the reception. Photo by Laura Barton.