LCSN: Navy’s newest nuclear sub commissioned in Va.

March 30, 2010. Retrieved online: March 30, 2010, from STEVE SZKOTAK Associated Press, Las Cruces Sun-News

NORFOLK, Va. – The Navy accepted its newest nuclear-powered submarine on Saturday with the commissioning of the USS New Mexico, a 377-foot, technology laden ship that was delivered months ahead of schedule.

The $2.3 billion Virginia-class attack submarine was commissioned before its crew of 134 officers and enlisted men, family and shipbuilders at Naval Station Norfolk. The streamlined black sub was moored at expansive pier 14, normally reserved for one of the base’s five nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

Tom Hutchinson, who owns Mesilla’s La Posta restaurant with wife Jerean, was on hand Thursday to contribute La Posta salsa, chile con queso, rolled red enchiladas and green chile strips to top off the entree at a 90-person gala lunch Thursday. The sub’s galley will be named after the restaurant.

“The food showed up very fresh,” Hutchinson said Saturday. “We probably had 30 percent of the crowd from New Mexico and, of course, they loved the fact that they had green chile.”

That afternoon, the Hutchinsons, their daughter and a retired chief warrant officer who served aboard battleship New Mexico in 1939 and 1940 got a special tour of the submarine.

“We got a chance to see all the neat spaces, including the galley with all the La Posta stickers,” he said. “It’s probably no bigger than your office, but pretty well put together and efficient. That was the highlight of the trip.”

The restaurant won naming rights to the galley 18 months ago in a statewide restaurant competition and now sells U.S.S. New Mexico items in its gift shop, said Hutchinson, a Maryland native who retired from the Navy in 2002 as a captain. Every other week during a six- to nine-month trip, the crew of the U.S.S. New Mexico will get to dine on genuine La Posta dishes like enchiladas, tostadas compuestas, flautas, tacos and rellenos.

“It was a beautiful day,” Hutchinson said Saturday after the ceremony and reception, which drew more than 1,000 attendees – including retired Read Adm. Paul Arthur, of Las Cruces, and his wife, New Mexico Sen. Tim Jennings, U.S. Congressman Martin Heinrich, and Michael Cerletti, Secretary of the New Mexico Tourism Department – and took place against the backdrop of the massive new U.S.S. George H. W. Bush supercarrier. “A little chilly, but a great Navy day.

He added, “The sub had its flags up. It’s just a beautiful ship. And inside, it’s just as I remember these things. Very compact, close, but very efficient.”

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