John Warner (SSN 785) is the 12th Virginia-class fast attack submarine and the sixth to be delivered to the U.S. Navy by Newport News Shipbuilding. While other Virginia-class submarines have been named after U.S. states, SSN 785 holds the distinction of being named after a person - a man who has served his country throughout his entire adult life as a Navy enlisted sailor, a Marine lieutenant, Secretary of the Navy and a U.S. Senator of Virginia.
During the ceremony, the senator and his wife, Jeanne Warner, who is the Ship's Sponsor, will authenticate the keel by chalking their initials onto a metal plate. Their initials will then be welded onto the plate and later permanently affixed to the ship.
Laying the keel is the symbolic beginning of building the ship, originating from the large structural beam (or keel) that serves as the foundation or spine of the ship's hull. Although modular construction techniques mean that the ship is no longer built from the bottom up, the keel laying is still celebrated as a momentous event in the ship's construction.