Gov. William Donald Schaefer will skip Saturday's christening of a new Trident nuclear submarine named after Maryland, but plans are under way to make "a big deal" of the commissioning of the $1.6 billion vessel in about a year.
Schaefer aide Mark Wasserman said the governor's schedule is too busy for him to travel to the ceremony in Groton, Conn. Wasserman dismissed reports that the governor is snubbing the ceremony because he's angry that General Dynamics, the builder of the submarine, recently selected Virginia over Maryland for its new national headquarters.
"He can't go," said Wasserman. "It's not practical for him to attend."
At a news conference this morning, Schaefer said he was still "a little miffed at General Dynamics, because I don't think we were ever in the ballgame." But he said that had nothing to do with his decision to miss the ceremony.
The only Maryland official at Saturday's ceremony will be Rep. Helen D. Bentley, R-2nd, who will be the principal speaker. She will present on the governor's behalf a Maryland flag, a letter of greeting and 10 pieces of a silver service used on the armored cruiser USS Maryland and its successor, the battleship USS Maryland.
While Schaefer will miss the christening ceremony, he has already told his staff to start planning an observance for next year when the 560-foot ballistic missile submarine is commissioned. He wants the ceremony to be held in Maryland.