Keel Ceremony

12 April 2008 Keel Ceremony

The NEW MEXICO’s Keel Authentication ceremony was held on 12 April 2008.

Click on the links below to view information about the Keel Ceremony Program:

Keel Ceremony Program

Keel Ceremony Agenda

Keel Ceremony Background Information

To view a video of the event click on:

A news release about the Keel Ceremony can be viewed at:

To view a slide show of the Keel Ceremony click on:

Keel Ceremony

A structural keel is a large beam about which the hull of a ship is built. The keel runs down the middle of the ship, from the bow to the stern , and serves as the foundation or spine of the structure, providing the major source of structural strength of the hull. The keel is generally the first part of a ship's hull to be constructed, and laying the keel is a momentous event in a ship's construction.

Accordingly, the keel-laying is a long-recognized naval tradition of laying down the backbone and critical strength member of a ship, thus marking the beginning of construction. Unlike other ships, submarines have no keels, but, for the ceremony’s sake, it is still called a keel-laying.

A key part of the keel-laying ceremony is the authentication, that is, the inscription of the authenticator's initials on the keel, followed by workmen moving the keel into position on the shipway , and the announcement that "the keel has been truly and fairly laid." For submarines, authentication usually takes place on one of the early sections of the hull. The authenticator is the ship’s sponsor who chalks her initials onto a steel plate. This inscription is then made permanent by a welder, as the sponsor declares the keel to be "true and authentic". The plate is later affixed to the interior surface of the hull.

NEW MEXICO is scheduled for her keel ceremony on April 12, 2008. She is also scheduled to reach her Pressure Hull Complete milestone on May 4, 2008. Because these two milestones are only three weeks apart the shipyard is contemplating a combination ceremony to authenticate the keel and symbolically celebrate the last weld of the pressure hull. So, f or NEW MEXICO, rather than marking the beginning of hull construction, our keel ceremony will mark the end.

It does not go without notice that NEW MEXICO’s pressure hull will be completed just one day before Cinco de Mayo (the fifth of May) , a festival that originated in Mexico, but that is now recognized throughout the world as a celebration of freedom and liberty.  The popularity of Cinco de Mayo has increased in recent years with parades, parties, dancing and mariachis. It is fortuitous that our Pressure Hull Complete coincides with a celebration of freedom and liberty – Viva Cinco de Mayo!