Industry news The US Navy’s 11th Virginia-class attack submarine was christened in Groton, Conn., Nov. 2, during a late-morning ceremony at the General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) shipyard.The ceremony marked the official naming of Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) North Dakota (SSN 784). The ship is currently under construction by both GDEB and Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, through a teaming arrangement.Ship sponsor Katie Fowler, wife of retired Vice Adm. Jeff Fowler, was on hand to officially christen the submarine by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine against the back of the boat’s sail. “In the name of the United States, I christen thee North Dakota. May God bless her and all that sail in her,” said Mrs. Fowler just before giving the bottle a brisk swing.During keynote remarks, Commander Submarine Forces Vice Adm. Michael Connor told more than 4,500 dignitaries, Sailors, and shipyard personnel in attendance that the Navy needs the nuclear-powered attack submarine as soon as “practical.” “The Submarine Force eagerly awaits the day when USS North Dakota will assume the watch and establish a legendary reputation worthy of the name North Dakota,” said Connor. “There’s still much to be done, and there is not a moment to lose.”PCU North Dakota is the second Navy ship named after the 39th state. The first was a Delaware-class dreadnought battleship.SSN 784’s name was chosen in honor of North Dakota’s proud military heritage. Seventeen North Dakotans have been awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in combat.In future years, the attack submarine will deliver speed, agility, stealth, endurance and firepower to combatant commanders directing U.S. military operations around the globe.Virginia-class subs have improved stealth and sophisticated surveillance capabilities. Their special warfare enhancements enable them to meet multiple mission requirements.North Dakota will be able to attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters or other sea-based forces. Its reactor plant is designed so that it will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs while increasing time at sea.North Dakota’s construction will continue during the next few months as its 138 crewmembers prepare to evaluate the ship’s seaworthiness and operational performance during sea trials. “The Navy and the nation count on our submarine force to deliver relevant and powerful capabilities where and when it matters, and nothing is more important to meeting that commitment than building the most capable submarines in the world,” said Rear Adm. Ken Perry, commander, Submarine Group 2.In addition to surveillance missions, North Dakota will be able to perform anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare; deliver and support special forces; and conduct mine delivery and minefield mapping operations. “Every phase of submarine construction requires world-class expertise and close partnership, and today’s christening at Electric Boat signifies a key milestone in that partnership toward delivering North Dakota to the fleet,” Perry added.PCU North Dakota is scheduled officially join the Navy fleet once commissioned in early 2014.The submarine measures 377 feet in length and has a beam of 34 feet. It will displace 7,800 tons and be capable of operating at more than 25 knots under water.[mappress]Press Release,November 4, 2013; Image: US Navy Share this article Back to overview,Home naval-today US Navy Christens 11th Virginia-Class Attack Sub November 4, 2013 US Navy Christens 11th Virginia-Class Attack Sub
Whether Altmann’s new position means she’d join the Department for Work & Pensions as de-facto successor to Webb, or straddle the Treasury and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – in charge of annuities, pension taxation and consumer protection, respectively – will become clearer as Cameron announces his new Cabinet in the coming days.For those that have been calling for greater transparency of fees, note that Altmann has told a UK newspaper she is in favour of a “pounds and pence” approach to fee disclosure, a view championed by the Investment Association, formerly the IMA.While on the face of it a common-sense approach, those saving small sums may well be left under the impression they are being charged reasonable amounts when in fact the percentage of contributions deducted would undermine their future savings goals.Regardless of Altmann’s approach, the end of Webb’s tenure in Parliament is likely to see the end of his focus on defined ambition and greater risk-sharing in pensions. The recent budget freedoms, based solely around a saver’s ability to withdraw his pension pot at his convenience, run counter to the collective approach pursued in the Pensions Scheme Act 2015 that allowed for the launch of a collective DC model in the UK.Gone is the focus on improving the outcome for a cohort as a whole – such as by introducing Independent Governance Committees to oversee insurance-based contract arrangements – replaced by a need to ensure individuals have the ability to understand the costs associated with each pension product, rather than pooling risk at retirement.In short, the UK should expect to see a shift to a traditional Conservative view of individualism and free markets, with an overtone of consumer protection as it now affects a part of the population key to future electoral victories. But those hoping for a quiet revolution that could have seen the UK emulate the European system of solidarity will be disappointed by Webb’s departure and the failure of Gregg McClymont’s Labour party to form the next government. Steve Webb MP is no more. The Liberal Democrat front-bencher who, as a result of 2010’s hung Parliament became the UK’s longest-serving pensions minister, was one of close to 50 parliamentarians from the junior coalition party to lose his seat in Thursday’s general election. In a surprise to everyone, including the Conservatives led by David Cameron, the incumbent prime minister won a majority after months of polls suggesting no party would have control of the House of Commons. The pensions industry now faces the reality of a new minister, maybe one with less of a grasp of the subject matter.On the other hand, the person charged with bedding in the pensions freedoms unveiled by George Osborne last year may be an all too familiar face: Ros Altmann. Altmann, a former director general of Saga Group, is already well known to the outgoing government for her work as Business Champion for Older Workers, recently drafting a report that suggested a minister should be put in charge of extending working lives.While the notion of a dedicated minister for older people was rejected by Cameron, who argued during the campaign that the concerns of the UK’s ageing population should be on the mind of all within the Cabinet, it was announced a few weeks ago that Altmann would join the House of Lords if the Conservatives won a majority.Altmann’s peerage would see her join the UK’s unelected upper house in charge of financial consumer protection and financial education, the party said, with a review of pension product charges and the development of Pensions Wise, the body offering guidance to those confounded by their new ability to draw their pension pot down from age 55.