There was a special visitor at the Union League Boys and Girls Clubs in Pilsen on Tuesday, as a group of kids got a chance to meet with the commander of the Navy's newest submarine.
“We’re here in the great city of Chicago because there’s such a strong connection between the United States Navy and admiral Hyman G. Rickover,” said Commander Matt Beach.
The commander, who will assume command of the submarine on her maiden voyage, is proud of the opportunity to lead the sailors at sea and said they’re making final preparations to get the vessel ready.
“She’s being built in Groton, Connecticut right now,” said Commander Matt Beach. “Last month she floated off into the water, by this time next year I expect the ship to be commissioned.”
The Virginia class submarine is named after Hyman G. Rickover, who grew up in Chicago and earned the rank of admiral during his 63 years of service in the Navy, which made him the longest-serving officer in the United States military.
“He is famous for being what is called the father of the 'nuclear Navy,” said Beach.
The Union League Club of Chicago formed a commissioning committee in 2019--raising money and other resources for crew members -- before the submarine becomes part of the Navy’s fleet. The christening ceremony was held over the summer.
“These are all ordinary people and they’re doing some remarkable things,” said Jeff Sacks. “You now how many people can leave their families for months at a time so it just struck a chord.”
Sacks is the vice chair of the commissioning committee. He’s also a trustee with the Union League Boys and Girls Clubs.
“The connection to the Navy has been there we take group of kids to the Great Lakes before COVID a couple times a year to expose kids what a career in the military might be like,” said Sacks.
The after-school program has changed the lives of tens of thousands of kids over the years.
“The area that we’re in currently is very dangerous and most people end up gang banging, in prison or I have a lot of friends who were killed just walking down the street,” said Afif Nasseredine. “Luckily for me it brought me after school I was safe in here. I knew I was working on good things to better my future I was exploring all these different programs finding who I was.”
The 17 year old told NBC 5 he’s looking to pursue a career in IT.
“When they bring in military personnel, when they bring in NBA players, when they bring aviation specialists, there’s countless people they brought in that’s taught us so much,” he said.
While he’s not ready to work on a submarine, he and others have a strong sense of appreciation for those serving at sea.
A crew of about 140 sailors will move on board the ship over the next couple of months—testing the ship before its commissioned late next year.