Feature Stories Campus Events

Submarine Named for Sen. John Warner '49 Christened

It’s hard to think of a more fitting tribute to a former secretary of the Navy than having a submarine named for you. That’s just what happened this past weekend, on Sept. 6, when former Sen. John W. Warner, Washington and Lee Class of 1949, attended the christening of the John Warner (SSN 785) in Newport News, Virginia.

Warner, who served Virginia for 30 years as a U.S. senator, had plenty of company—about 9,000 people—at the festivities, including his wife, Jeanne Warner, the sub’s sponsor, who got to crack the bottle of bubbly against the hull; Ray Mabus, secretary of the Navy; current Virginia senator Mark Warner; and officials of Newport News Shipbuilding, which built the vessel. Among the tunes that attendees enjoyed were “The W&L Swing” and “Shenandoah.”

We blogged about the keel-laying ceremony in March 2013, pointing out that “naming the boat for Sen. Warner was a major break with tradition. For years, the U.S. has named its two large classes of attack submarines for cities and states.”

Warner served in the Navy during World War II, and in the Marines during the Korean War. He became undersecretary of the Navy in 1969 and took the top post in 1972. He kicked off five terms in the U.S. Senate in 1978; when he retired in 2009, it was as the second-longest-serving senator from Virginia in the entire history of that legislative body.

He attended W&L under the GI Bill. He has served his alma mater in many ways, including a stint on the Board of Trustees and the 2008 Mock Con Advisory Board, donating his law library to the University, and giving funds for scholarships for African-American students and for the John W. Warner Public Service Award.

The University gave Warner an honorary degree in 2005 and bestowed upon him the Washington Award, its highest honor, in 2009. The alumni magazine profiled him that same year.

Lots of media, including the Navy, covered Saturday’s ceremony, and you can see their coverage at these links: