The sun had barely risen Tuesday morning when officials from the United States Navy and IU met in the Varsity Club Suite of Memorial Stadium.
The visit was organized by the USS Indiana Commissioning Committee, the group tasked with informing the public about the new Virginia-class nuclear submarine of the same name.
The ship, scheduled for commissioning next year, will be the fourth U.S. Navy vessel to take the name USS Indiana and will be the sixteenth submarine of the Virginia-class, according to the commissioning committee.
Memorial Stadium was primarily chosen as a venue for the event because of the USS Indiana exhibition on the west side of the stadium, where parts of the World War II battleship USS Indiana are.
The meeting was attended by U.S. Navy Cmrd. Jesse Zimbauer and Master Chief Petty Officer Lafrederick Herring, who will control the submarine once it is commissioned.
Representatives from the offices of Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, and Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana, were also in attendance.
The submarine will be longer than used driven during World War II. Zimbauer said the ship is about as long as the field below the room from post to post.
“Nobody could kick a football from one side to the other,” he said.
The submarine is powered by nuclear energy and will not have to be refueled for its entire lifetime. The ship is expected to be in service for 32 years.
Assistant Vice President for Strategic Partnerships Kirk White said the World War II USS Indiana was significant to IU and to the state of Indiana on multiple levels.
He referenced Memorial Stadium, the Indiana Memorial Union and the new Memorial Hall as some of IU’s many commitments to the armed services and those who have given their lives for our freedoms.
White said the armaments and mast of the original ship are at Memorial Stadium, but the location of the rest of the ship had been unknown for some time because it was sold for scrap in the 1960s.
He said IU President Michael McRobbie asked him to find any other parts, and he discovered the ship’s bow was in the parking lot of a fish restaurant.
It was being used as a parking attendant booth.
White said McRobbie asked him to acquire the piece of metal, and it was donated by the family that owned the restaurant.
It now sits in between the armaments at Memorial Stadium.
Shearer said his committee determined more than 100 businesses in the state alone contribute to the manufacturing of submarines.
He said this was important and gives the submarine’s name new meaning and connection to the state.
He said it was vital to maintain the relationship the University has with the military.
“The last crew members of 789 aren’t even born yet,” said Shearer, referring to the submarine’s identification number, which distinguishes it from other ships of the same name.
Herring said the crew of the submarine researched the state of Indiana as part of preparation for their commissioning next year.
He is from North Carolina but said the crew are Hooyah-Hoosiers, which is a reference to the Navy’s battle cry and Indiana’s demonym.
In his speech Zimbauer said the Navy was a spiritual group. He said ship naming was important and sailors treat their crafts like humans.
Zimbauer said he had a single request of the audience before he ended his speech.
“In 32 years when my ship gets decommissioned, can you not let it become a parking attendant’s booth?” he asked.