SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House of Representatives adopted a resolution Thursday congratulating the captain and crew of the USS Illinois, the United States Navy’s newest nuclear-powered submarine scheduled to be commissioned later this year and the first ship to be christened in the state’s name since 1897. The resolution, HR 200, was introduced and sponsored by State Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego).
The USS Illinois, currently under construction in the Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, Connecticut, will be 377 feet long, with a 34-foot beam and a 32-foot draft; built to sustain dives of more than 800 feet below the surface and armed to engage in both near-shore and deep-water missions and operations. The ship is scheduled to be fully operational and commissioned by December 2015.
In addition, the Illinois House has advanced two other legislative initiatives to give Illinois residents the option of purchasing special USS Illinois license plates (HB 130) or making a donation through an income tax check-off (HB 142) to the U.S.S. Illinois Commissioning Committee, a nonprofit organization formed to pay for costs associated with the ship’s launching and commissioning not covered by the U.S. Navy.
The Committee’s Chairman is Capt. Len Wass, USN (Ret.) of Oswego, a tireless advocate for marshaling public support of the ship’s commissioning, her captain and crew.
“Len Wass and the USS Illinois Commissioning Committee should be commended for their ongoing efforts,” said Rep. Wheeler. “We will continue working hard this spring to pass the two remaining bills that will help generate the private donations needed to support the launch of the USS Illinois and the brave men and women of the United States Navy who will serve on the ship.”
House Bill 130, the legislation to issue special Illinois license plates honoring the USS Illinois and U.S. Submarine Force, was approved in committee on Thursday and has advanced to the House floor for a final vote. $25 of the cost of each plate would be donated to a fund supporting the commissioning of the USS Illinois. House Bill 142, the legislation to allow Illinois residents to make a donation through a check-off on their state income tax form, was assigned was scheduled for a hearing in the Income Tax Subcommittee this week. Rep. Wheeler is a co-sponsor of both bills.
For more information about the USS Illinois Commissioning Committee or to make a donation, please visit www.ussillinois.org.
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