The USS Minnesota, the Navy's newest attack submarine, will be christened on Saturday in Newport News, Va.

A crew of 134 officers and enlisted personnel will operate the $2 billion, 7,800-ton, 377-foot-long Virginia-class submarine. It is capable of diving deeper than 800 feet and operating at speeds in excess of 25 knots when submerged. The Minnesota is designed with a nuclear reactor that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship. It is expected to officially become part of the Navy fleet when it is commissioned next summer.

Ellen Roughead, wife of former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead and a Minnesota native, will serve as ship's sponsor and break a champagne bottle against a plate welded to the hull in the christening on Saturday.

Last year, a Roseville teenager, Jakob Bartels, was awarded a $1,500 college scholarship and an all-expense-paid trip to the USS Minnesota commissioning ceremony for designing the logo for the ship. It prominently features a Viking whose helmet has a glistening North Star, a walleye on the hull of the submarine and the Latin inscription, "From the North, Strength."

The last naval ship named after Minnesota was decommissioned in 1921. But there were other ships in the fleet with Minnesota connections. The USS Minneapolis-St. Paul submarine was decommissioned in August 2008.

The Minnesota is built to excel in anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship warfare, strike warfare, special operations, surveillance, irregular warfare and mine warfare missions. The Navy said it is capable of operating in both shallow regions and deep waters.

Mark Brunswick • 612-673-4434