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Utah-born Navy officer calls newly-commissioned submarine his home

The U.S.S. Minnesota was commissioned at the Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia Sept. 7 as the most recent naval war submarine in the U.S. Navy fleet.

The craft is 377 feet long, capable of submerged speeds of more than 29 mph, and can stay submerged for up to three months at a time.

“Imagine being on a plane for a few months and never seeing the sun, with no windows, and just working all the time,” said Dane Jorgenson, a sonar technician on the U.S.S. Minnesota. Jorgenson is a Petty Officer Third Class.

According to Jorgenson, the commissioning of a vessel, or bringing it into active service, is one of the biggest events in the life of a vessel. There are four stages to a vessel’s life: laying or the first step in constructing a vessel, the christening or naming of the craft, commissioning, and the decommissioning or retirement of the vessel.  Construction of the Minnesota began on May 20, 2011, it was christened on Oct. 27, 2012, and commissioned Sept. 7, 2013.

“I got here in 2011 when the boat was in four gigantic pieces,” said Jorgenson. “It was just four really big tubes basically and they put pieces in and slowly slid it all together and it’s been really cool to see it all come together.”

Over 6,000 people attended the commissioning ceremony, which honored the crew of 134 members who helped to build, maintain and man the ship and welcomed the U.S.S. Minnesota as the 10th Virginia-class submarine in the U.S. fleet.

“It very much feels like the vessel is my home, I’ve watched it grow up I guess you could say,” said Jorgenson. “For the next 40 years, I’m going to be known as a plank owner of the U.S.S. Minnesota. Any time I come aboard after I leave from my initial tour on board her it will be announced that I am coming on board so the crew will know that someone who built the ship is there. It’s a pleasure and an honor.”

The Minnesota was completed nearly a year earlier than the original contract called for and cost approximately $2.6 billion to build.

Taylor Halversen is a senior at Utah State University, majoring in Communication Studies and Liberal Arts. She's from Sandy, Utah and is interested in discovering new and random things to try and attempting to live life wholly and healthily. She loves music and climbing anything from trees to mountains.