For only the third time in history, a U.S. Navy ship will bear the name of our great state when the USS Minnesota is officially commissioned into use on Sept. 7.
This 377-foot long Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarine will be the most advanced warship in the entire Navy. It is capable of holding a crew of 135 for months at a time as part of our greater fleet protecting Americans around the world.
The naming of the submarine for our state by the Navy is a tremendous honor and Minnesota hasn’t had a ship named after us since 1907. Since the Navy leaves covering the cost of the commissioning exercises up to the states, we as state legislators have a responsibility to help direct support for the event.
I was disappointed, however, when legislative leaders this session refused to consider a small appropriation to support our state’s legacy during the commissioning process coming up in September.
Whenever a new ship is built and given its name, the crew and their families take part in its final stages before becoming an active vessel. This crew spends months away from loved ones and makes tremendous sacrifices once the ship sets sail. The volunteer military members that defend in our freedoms deserve a small amount of public support to say, “Thank You.”
Most states pass support for their ships in the legislative process.
I authored a bill to provide $200,000 to the committee working to make arrangements for the USS Minnesota as a small token of our appreciation for the ship and its crew, but this bill never got through the political process in St. Paul.
At the same time, a $40 billion state budget was passed that included wasteful spending and higher taxes. For perspective the ship will defend America over the next 35 years, and during that time, our state will pass 17 different budgets and spend at least $640 billion (if current spending stays flat).
In North Dakota, $300,000 was passed quickly to support their ship and Alaska’s lawmakers passed $400,000 to support the launch of the USS Anchorage.
States provide support for their own ship because it is an honor for their residents and the nation as a whole.
A portion of the funding was also intended to create an endowment for a college scholarship to be awarded each year to a crew member or a crew member’s family.
Many states, like Missouri and Mississippi, go above and beyond to provide scholarship endowment support for the crew of their ships. This initiative has been unfortunately put on hold as the committee has been forced to raise the commissioning funding through private donations.
While I am disappointed by our state’s elected leaders for not prioritizing such an important request, I am also asking you to join me in offering support for the crew and their families as the USS Minnesota is commissioned.
You can provide a tax-deductible donation today through the Twin Cities Council of the US Navy League’s website at ussminnesotassn783.com/.
State Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, represents District 39A in the Minnesoat House of Representatives.