Petty Officer Kevin King speaks to the Albany Herald via webcast while standing in front of the PCU Mississippi Friday. The Westover High graduate will be the $2.6 billion boat's inaugural crew when she's commissioned Saturday.
PASCAGOULA, Miss. — The most sophisticated weapons platform on the planet will set sail from Mississippi today, and a Westover High School graduate will be manning the torpedoes.
Petty Officer Kevin King said in an interview from Pascagoula, Miss., Friday that he considers himself lucky to be assigned to the nation's newest fast-attack submarine.
"When I got my orders and found out I was assigned to the Mississippi, I couldn't believe it. It's really just a great opportunity on a brand-new sub," King said.
The $2.6 billion, 377-foot-long submarine will officially be commissioned today as the U.S.S. Mississippi, a sub capable of anti-submarine warfare, special operations and anti-ship missions.
King joined the Navy in 2009 after graduating from Westover. He said a cousin, who is also serving aboard the Mississippi, persuaded him to become a submariner.
"My cousin, Petty Officer Pearson who is actually on the Mississippi with me, talked me into it. He's been in for about 10 years and said I would love it and I do," King said.
And while the launch of the Mississippi will be King's first true sub deployment, the machinist's mate has spent some time on the ballistic missile sub U.S.S. Rhode Island.
King serves as the boat's torpedoman and weapons system technician. It's a pressure-filled job, but one that he takes pride in.
"On a sub, everything is a pressure-filled job, but that's part of the thrill of it," King said.
Built by Connecticut-based Electric Boats, PCU Mississippi as it is presently known — PCU stands for pre-commissioned unit — was built in less time than any other sub in the fleet, pulling out of dry-dock 62 months after work began.
According to statements from the Navy, the Mississippi is the ninth Virginia-class submarine and is part of an aggressive mandate from the Pentagon to order at least two submarines each year for the next decade.
Advanced subs like the Mississippi will replace aging Los Angeles-class attack subs and will augment the Ohio-class ballistic missile subs currently deployed.
According to the U.S. Navy, the Mississippi is capable of cruising at depths of 800 feet or deeper at speeds better than 25 knots.