FHBC Chairman Tyler Participates in Tribal Blessing of the USS Idaho

March 19, 2024

For Immediate Release:

Groton, Connecticut – On Friday, March 15, 2024, Fort Hall Business Council Chairman Lee Juan Tyler, participated in a tribal blessing of the U.S. Navy’s newest warship, the future USS Idaho (SSN 799). The warship was formally christened and named on Saturday, March 16 in Groton, Connecticut at the General Dynamics Electric Boat Shipyard.

Two Idaho Tribes, the Shoshone-Bannock and Nez Perce participated in the blessing of the new USS Idaho and the U.S. Idaho crew members. It was the first time that that an event of this kind has happened as part of a U.S. Navy warship christening.  Representing the Nez Perce Tribe included tribal leaders Samuel Penney and Mary J. Miles, and Wilfred Scott and Brooklyn Babtiste who assisted with the ceremony.  

Chairman Tyler explained that he didn’t really know what to expect until he arrived. They all had to go through a security clearance to be eligible to attend. “I felt it was important to represent the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and Idaho in this historical event as the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and Nuclear Reactor Facility (NRF) are located on our ancestral homelands. We have built a collaborative working relationship with them.”

The water used to christen the ship came from four of Idaho’s lakes: Lake Pend Oreille, Payette Lake, Henrys Lake and Redfish Lake. The ship is the first U.S. Navy warship to bear the Idaho name in more than 100 years. States that have a ship named in their honor, are also responsible for supporting the ship and providing a hospitable atmosphere for the crew and the families of the crew.

Sailors remain on the ship for up to six months at a time. The ship is designed to make them feel as if they are in Idaho. This includes the menu served aboard the ship, which will include Idaho potatoes.  The USS Idaho Commissioning Committee advisory board is chaired by former Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne. Additional committee members include Idaho business leaders, former military members and other Idahoans.

The $2.6 billion Virginia-class submarine is the 26th vessel of its kind to be built. It is 377 feet long, weighs 8,000 tons, is four stories tall and four stories wide. The name USS Idaho once belonged to the fastest warship in WWII. 

Chairman Tyler stated that he appreciated the collaboration with Nez Perce Tribal Leaders to assist in the blessing. “It was a great accomplishment and blessing to be a part of such a meaningful event.  This warship will help protect our country. I have great respect for our past, present and future military veterans and a great respect for the submariners.”

“Perhaps we can get some of our Tribal people to become engineers, scholars and work at INL or NRF. It is a great opportunity for our youth and there are career opportunities in the Navy, and other military branches. It was an honor to represent the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes,” said Tyler.

(Photo courtesy of FHBC Chairman, Lee Juan Tyler)


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