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First Lady Christens U.S.S. Lafayette

May 8, 1962 - The world’s largest submarine, the U.S.S. Lafayette, slipped smoothly into the Thames River in Groton, Connecticut today, christened in both French and English by Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy. Mrs. Kennedy swung the bottle of champagne against the nation’s newest submarine seconds after the countdown ended with the word “Launch.” “I christen thee Lafayette,” she said softly. Then she added, “Je te baptise Lafayette.” As the bottle crashed against the bow, a few drops of champagne splattered on Mrs. Kennedy’s coat, but she was smiling as the ship glided away from her and the band played “Anchors Aweigh.” The ship, nuclear-powered and built to fire Polaris missiles, is named for the Marquis de Lafayette, the Frenchman who served in Washington’s army during the American Revolutionary War. All previous fleet ballistic-missile submarines have been named for Americans known for their dedication to the cause of freedom.


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