CHICAGO – At a special ceremony celebrating the commissioning of the U.S.S. Illinois attended by U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, Governor Bruce Rauner and other dignitaries Wednesday at Navy Pier, State Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) presented the ship’s captain with an official copy of the Illinois House resolution honoring him and his crew. Rep. Wheeler introduced and sponsored the resolution, HR 200, which was adopted on February 26.
The resolution applauds the commissioning of the United States Navy’s newest nuclear-powered submarine, the U.S.S. Illinois, and congratulates Commander Jesse Porter and his crewmembers on their appointment to the ship. The U.S.S. Illinois is 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.
Currently under construction in the Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, Connecticut, the U.S.S. Illinois 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 of Representatives has approved another legislative initiative to give Illinois residents the option of purchasing special U.S.S. Illinois license plates (HB 130). For each plate purchased, $25 would go to support 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. Rep. Wheeler was a co-sponsor of House Bill 130, approved by a vote of 111-2 on March 4.
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. “It was an honor to spend time with the captain of the U.S.S. Illinois and properly recognize his crew as they prepare for their commissioning. We will continue to support the launch of the U.S.S. Illinois and the brave men and women of the United States Navy who will serve on the ship.”
For more information about the USS Illinois Commissioning Committee or to make a donation, please visit www.ussillinois.org.
U.S. Navy Commander Jesse Porter, Capt. Len Wass, USN (Ret.) of Oswego, and State Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) at the ceremony honoring the captain and crew of the U.S.S. Illinois at Navy Pier in Chicago on Wednesday, April 1.