WHEN: Sunday, March 8, 2009. The hour-long ceremony starts at 7 a.m. (Pacific Daylight Time) and is open to the public. The shipyard main gate opens at 6 a.m.
WHERE: The NASSCO shipyard is located at 2798 Harbor Drive in San Diego, near the intersection of 28th Street and Harbor Drive. Media should enter through NASSCOâ€™s Gate 14, where parking will be provided (see directions below).
WHO: General Dynamics Chairman and CEO Nicholas D. Chabraja will speak. Captain Lee Morin, the senior Navy astronaut on active duty, will be the ceremonyâ€™s principal speaker. Mrs. Josephine Schirra, the widow of Wally Schirra and the shipâ€™s sponsor, will christen the ship. Former astronauts Bill Anders, Scott Carpenter, Jim Lovell and Tom Stafford are expected to attend.
Directions to Gate 14: To reach Gate 14, go westbound on East Harbor Drive from 28th Street and turn left onto Sampson Street. From Sampson, turn left onto Belt Street and proceed to the NASSCO gate. The gate will open at 6 a.m. The on-site media representative is Dick Gorham, who can be reached at (619) 756-5039.
Designed and built by General Dynamics NASSCO, the Wally Schirra is named in honor of the fifth American into space, Navy Captain Walter â€œWally Schirra, Jr. Construction of the 689-foot-long Wally Schirra began in October 2007. The shipâ€™s primary mission will be to deliver more than 10,000 tons of food, ammunition, fuel and other provisions to combat ships at sea. The shipâ€™s name is preceded by â€œUSNSâ€ for United States Naval Ship. The ship will be delivered to the Navy in the third quarter of 2009.
The timing of the launch is determined by the shipâ€™s construction schedule and the tides of the San Diego Bay. The required depth of tidewater to safely launch the 25,000-ton ship into the bay usually occurs twice each month. The Wally Schirra will slide into the bay at approximately 7:50 a.m.
NASSCO, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), employs more than 4,700 people and is the only major ship construction yard on the West Coast of the United States. Additional information on NASSCO can be found at www.nassco.com.