Metro-East News

Roger That: U.S.S. Illinois joins the Navy fleet after christening ceremony

The U.S.S. Illinois, one of the fastest and stealthiest attack submarines in the world, was officially christened by First lady Michelle Obama during a ceremony last week in Groton, Conn.

The first lady took three whacks to break a bottle of champagne against the hull of the USS Illinois and thanked military families for their sacrifice, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The $2.7 billion vessel is the 13th in the Virginia class of submarines, which can carry out a range of missions including anti-submarine warfare, delivery of special forces and surveillance. The 377-foot submarine will carry a crew of more than 130 and a payload of weapons including torpedoes and Tomahawk missiles.

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Military officials said they want to make vending machines and fast food on base healthier by changing menus and bringing in nutritionally better brands and options, according to

Franchises such as Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken, which have long operated under contracts with the Exchange services, are a common sight on military bases worldwide, while vending machines containing highly processed snacks are a fixture in barracks, dormitories and break rooms. It still remains unclear, however, what process the Pentagon will use to determine what types of junk food will remain, what types will be removed and how such food products will be made healthier.

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Women will eventually have to register for the draft if “true and pure equality” is to be realized in the U.S. military, Army Secretary John McHugh said Monday, according to

“If your objective is true and pure equality then you have to look at all aspects” of the roles of women in the military, McHugh said, and registration for the draft “will be one of those things. That will have to be considered.”

McHugh said draft registration was not a subject to be decided by the services or the Department of Defense, and will ultimately have to be dealt with by Congress. He expected a “pretty emotional debate and discussion.”

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000