NNS to Christen Massachusetts (SSN 798) Saturday

Published May 3, 2023

A number of behind-the-scenes jobs are required to pull off a submarine christening at Newport News Shipbuilding. That includes producing the massive flag that covers the submarine’s bow during the ceremony.

“It’s just an honor doing the bow flag,” said De’Vere Wilkins, one of the shipbuilders in the Sail Loft who was tasked with preparing the flag. “Overall, it was a pretty good experience and actually putting everything under the machine and just keeping up with everything. That’s where you learn patience. Patience is the No. 1 thing with the bow flag.”

The work of Wilkins and fellow shipbuilders in the Sail Loft will be center stage Saturday during the christening ceremony for Virginia-class submarine Massachusetts (SSN 798). Watch a video to learn more about the bow flag preparations.

During the ceremony, Ship’s Sponsor Sheryl Sandberg – founder and chair of the Sandberg Goldberg Bernthal Family Foundation​ – will perform the traditional honor of breaking a bottle of American sparkling wine on the submarine’s hull. Sandberg previously served as chief operating officer at Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

The ceremony, which will honor the thousands of shipbuilders who have contributed to Massachusetts’ construction, will be livestreamed beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 6, at hii.com/SSN798 and on the HII and Jennifer Boykin Facebook pages.