Remarks by President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden at the USS Delaware commissioning ceremony

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Port of Wilmington
Wilmington, Delaware

11:50 a.m. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: My name is Joe Biden. I’m Jill’s husband. (Laugh.)

It’s always a good day to celebrate Delaware, spend time with military members and their families, or introduce Jill. It’s a trifecta in my family.

Governor Carney, Senator Carper, Senator Coons, Congressman Blunt Rochester, Secretary Del Toro, Commander Horton and all the crew and families of the USS Delaware: I am truly honored to be with you.

This newest ship to carry the USS Delaware is part of a long – the name – is part of a long tradition of proudly serving our nation and enhancing the security of our nation – the security of the United States of America – not just us, but also our allies and partners around the world. In fact, it has been doing so for some time.

So I want to say thank you to everyone – to everyone involved in bringing this submarine into service: to those who laid the keel, to the sailors who will crew it and everyone – in all the years to come .

And I want you to know that I had an incredible partner. Jill has overseen the progress of the USS Delaware for years.

The daughter of a Navy signalman during World War II, the mother of a member of the Delaware National Guard, the grandmother of children who saw their father serve a year at a time from home. She always keeps our military and their families close to her heart. And that’s no exaggeration; that is real.

And I am deeply proud of the work she is doing as First Lady with the Joining Forces initiative, which she started with Michelle Obama back then she [I] was vice president and continues now.

As First Lady, she doesn’t — she’s been to more military installations around the world. She has hosted more than 20 military family events.

And she works – works to expand economic opportunities for military spouses who – by the way, in the words of Keats, “They also serve who stand and wait.” And a submariner’s spouse stands and waits a lot.

And to help military children for the support they need. And to ensure survivors and caregivers have the resources they deserve.

It’s a true passion for Jill and for our entire family.

As your Commander-in-Chief, I believe it is our sacred duty as a nation to prepare and equip those troops we send into peril and to care for them and their families when they return home.

Now – now it is my honor to introduce your first lady, the sponsor of this magnificent ship, Jill Biden. (Applause.)

THE FIRST LADY: Thank you, Mr. President. (laughter) I have to admit, I never tire of saying that.

As a sponsor of this ship, I am delighted to welcome so many distinguished guests, particularly the Secretary of the Navy and Admirals Gilday and Caudle.

Commander Horton, Senior Chief Grammer and the entire crew of the USS Delaware, it is an honor to share this special day with you and your families. (Applause.)

I would especially like to say hello to some of my good friends from Delaware Boots on the Ground. You know, working with you has connected me to a community of incredible military families. And all these years later, your work still inspires me and I hope you can see your impact on our Joining Forces initiative.

So where are my Delaware Boots on the Ground members today? Where do they sit?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: You’re down.

THE FIRST LADY They’re downstairs. you are below In order. Wow, you’re down there? (Applause.)

The state of Delaware loved the Bidens and cheered for us in most of our triumphant moments. It carried us through the darkest times of our lives with a kindness that asked for nothing in return.

Delaware is family.

I will never forget the pride I felt standing in the Pentagon with Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and you, Tom, to announce that I would be the sponsor of this ship. The USS Delaware was nothing more than a drawing back then.

In 2016 my grandson Hunter joined me for the keel laying. And I think he felt the important connection that our family needs to serve at the time, and it was such a special moment for both of us.

Then, in 2018, I traveled to Newport News for the christening — and saw this simple drawing come to life in a champagne shower. And I saw the truth of what Minister Mabus said when it all began, that this ship will always uphold the First State’s motto of “Liberty and Independence.”

So it’s hard to put into words how much it means to be a part of the USS Delaware family. It’s an incredible honor that I take seriously. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about this community – from bowling with you at Newport News to vacationing with your families in Fort Groton last December.

I have seen the heart of this crew and it fills me with pride and humility to be a lifelong shipmate.

Today’s celebration, like so many things in recent years, is a bit unusual.

At the start of the pandemic, the Delaware was the first ship ever to enter service underwater. Commissioning a ship in the middle of a global pandemic was challenging, but as always, you rose to the occasion.

Although we are a little late with our celebration, today marks the beginning of an incredible journey: the long and faithful service of this ship to our country.

We may not know what’s to come, but one thing we do know: the challenges will be met with the honor, distinction, and bravery of the 125 sailors who serve on her decks. (Applause.)

They lead with unparalleled character and courage.

Of course, the commissioning also marks a beginning for the families of the sailors. Although spouses and children, parents and siblings will stay dry with us today, a piece of their heart will always sail away. You too have a mission; You too serve our nation.

And when we look at this warship, we see its steel bulkheads and unbreakable hull. We see it strong enough to withstand the crushest of pressures and glide silently through the deadliest waters.

And yet so much of its power is invisible: the engines and sonar, the rudders that give it direction and purpose.

You, the families of this crew, may not be in uniform, but with your love and support, and with your sacrifice and dedication, you are as essential to our mission as the rudder is to this submarine. (Applause.)

Sailors, as you venture into new waters, know that the families who remain ashore will not be forgotten by your President, nor by me. We work every day to honor the sacrifices you all make.

When our son Beau was deployed to Iraq, another military mother shared a prayer with me – one that I said every night while he was on duty. And it goes like this:
May the deep waters bring you more comfort than strife.

May the friendships you find warm the cold walls of this vessel with laughter.

May you feel the glow of each goodbye hug long after the horizon has lost shore. May this light illuminate even the darkest berth.

May you always return home safely in the arms of the people who love you the most.

And may God bless our troops and their families, wherever your journey takes you.

Amen.
Governor Carney, Senators Carper and Coons, Congressman Blunt Rochester, thank you for today’s celebration.

And to our seafarers, thank you for your service and sacrifice. Thank you for allowing me to be your shipmate for life. (Applause.)

everyone is here? In order?

SENIOR CHIEF PETTY OFFICER GRAMMER: Yes, ma’am.

THE FIRST LADY: Okay.

Alright Shipmates: Officers and crew of the USS Delaware, crew our ship and bring it to life!

USS DELAWARE CREW: Aye aye, ma’am!

12:01 p.m. EDT

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