New commander to lead USS Idaho submarine project
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) – USS Idaho welcomes Commander Randall Leslie to take the helm in a change-of-command ceremony Friday night.
The USS Idaho, a Virginia-class nuclear powered attack submarine currently under construction, is on schedule to be christened in 2024 and commissioned into active US Navy service in 2025. This is the first Navy vessel to be named after Idaho in over 100 years.
A committee of Idaho volunteers is working to plan for the warship’s christening and commissioning activities under guidelines set by the Secretary of the Navy.
More information on the committee, its goals and activities can be found here. Visitors to the website will also find a wealth of information about the submarine and its capabilities.
As is routine for a U.S. Navy vessel, a pre-commissioning crew of sailors is assigned to the under-construction submarine in preparation for its eventual launch. Since 2020, that crew has been commanded by U.S. Navy Commander Nicholas Meyers.
Over the past two years, Commander Meyers led numerous visits of his crew members to Idaho. With each visit, different sailors were able to enjoy the hospitality for which Idaho is famous. Those visits included participating in parades, attending sports events, taking a backcountry snowmobile trip, visiting the Idaho National Laboratory and river rafting. With each visit, the bond between the sailors and the submarine's namesake state has grown stronger.
Commander Meyers says, “I am grateful and deeply honored for all the support I received over the past few years from this outstanding crew, the squadron staff, the patriotic shipbuilders at Electric Boat, people of the great state of Idaho and, perhaps most of all, my wonderful family.” He continues, “I look forward to seeing all that the future-USS Idaho accomplishes under the skillful leadership of Comander Leslie, and in defense of the United States of America.”
Newly appointed Commander Leslie says, “Comander Meyers’ inspiring leadership has prepared the crew of the future USS Idaho to be successful for many years to come. It’s a true honor for me to take command now and serve with this tremendous crew as we work with our Electric Boat teammates to get the Gem of the Fleet ready for sea." He continues, “I could not have reached this point without the sage advice of my Navy mentors over the years and the loving support of my family, and to them, I express my deepest gratitude. To the Sailors of Idaho, I’m truly excited to join you as we carry on the war-fighting legacy of the men and women that have served throughout the history of the land we now call Idaho.”
The USS Idaho Commissioning Committee is led by former Idaho Governor, Dirk Kempthorne, who serves as the committee's advisory board chair. Kempthorne says, "Commander Nick Meyers has done an exceptional and exemplary job of carrying out the roles of building up the crew to readiness standards, building rapport with the shipyard workers, building rapport with the submarine's namesake state and building the culture of the ship in a way that embodies the values, history and ethics of the Great State of Idaho."
Governor Kempthorne noted that the motto of the ship reflects Idaho's own state motto: "Esto Perpetua," or, Let it be forever.
The USS Idaho Commissioning Committee is looking forward to future crew visits to our state and welcoming Commander Leslie as he becomes acquainted with our state and our citizens.