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First Lady Michelle Obama has agreed to sponsor the USS Illinois, the White House announced today.
First Lady Michelle Obama has agreed to sponsor the US Navy’s first submarine that will employ female submariners, MSNBC reported. (Earlier, the Hill reported incorrectly that the submarine would have an all-female crew.)
The future nuclear-powered attack sub is even named after her home state – the USS Illinois.
According to the Associated Press:
As sponsor, Mrs. Obama will be involved in the life of the submarine and establish a special link to the ship's sailors and their families.
The USS Illinois is a Virginia-class submarine being built in Groton, Conn., and Newport News, Va., and is scheduled to enter the fleet by 2015, the AP reported.
Obama is endorsing the submarine at a time that woman are pushing for expanded roles in the US military, the Hill noted. Two female soldiers, Command Sgt. Maj. Jane Baldwin and Col. Ellen Harding, filed a lawsuit against the Pentagon last week seeking to end the Department's ban on women in combat.
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“It’s an honor and a privilege to serve as sponsor of the USS Illinois,” the first lady said in a statement, according to the Hill. “This submarine is a tribute to the strength, courage, and determination that our Navy families exhibit every day."
Laura Bush, wife of President George W. Bush, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, wife of President Bill Clinton and current US Secretary of State, also served as sponsors of submarines while in the White House, the AP reported.
The US Illinois is the second ship Obama has sponsored so far, according to the Hill. She sponsored the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton, based in Alameda, California, earlier this year.
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