"I christen thee United States Ship Boise."
With those words, Louise McClure, wife of Sen. Jim McClure, R-Idaho, broke a bottle of champagne on the bow of the nuclear-powered submarine USS Boise in a Saturday night christening ceremony.A laser show and a fireworks display lit up the sky over the James River, capping the celebration attended by a cheering crowd of more than 5,000. Smoke, sirens, whistles and music from the Navy Band enhanced the festive atmosphere.
After the ceremony, Salome "Sal" Clark Springer, who christened the now-scrapped light cruiser Boise at Newport News in 1936, said, "I never have been so excited. It brought back a lot of memories."
Springer shared the platform before the 362-foot-long submarine with Mrs. McClure, the ship's sponsor, Sen. McClure, Sen. Steve Symms, R-Idaho, Boise Mayor Dirk Kempthorne and other dignitaries.
While the ceremony brought back a rush of memories for Springer, it did the same for surviving members of the light cruiser Boise who attended the christening.
"It was great, very moving," said Don Fitch, 67, a quartermaster on the first Boise ship. "I'm just proud to be here."
Edward Campbell, president of Newport News Shipbuilding, paid tribute to the crew of the light cruiser Boise for its courage and heroism when the ship sank four Japanese vessels near Guadalcanal in October 1942.
Three officers and 104 enlisted men aboard the ship were killed during that battle and 20 more were wounded.
"Her crew fought with such grit, true grit," Campbell said. He predicted that the Boise submarine and her crew would possess those same qualities and be a "source of great pride" for the city of Boise and the country.
The submarine will be launched in March 1991 and delivered to the Navy in 1992. Naval Commander David Mericle will skipper the ship, which will have a 134-member crew.
Adm. Bruce DeMars, director of naval nuclear propulsion, said it was fitting to have the submarine named after a city in Idaho. It was in the Idaho desert, near Idaho Falls, where the prototype for the first nuclear-powered naval vessel was constructed in 1956, he said.
"The state of Idaho is well-positioned to claim the honor as the birthplace of the naval nuclear power program," DeMars said.
Symms, who played a key role in having the submarine bear Boise's name, talked about the need for a strong military and ships such as the USS Boise.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the walls of communism did not collapse on their own," Symms said. "The walls of communism are crumbling from the weight of the United States' freedom."