The United States Navy has chosen Sheryl Sandberg to christen their newest submarine, the USS Massachusetts. The Facebook COO is a particularly interesting choice as a sponsor. By tradition, sponsors are always women, but are usually wives or daughters of senior military officers or politicians.

According to AP, Sandberg was chosen by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, whom Sandberg has praised for helping empowering women in the service, one example being extending maternity leave policy. “She really has come to epitomize a successful empowered woman,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Sandberg. “Her selection is merited in her own right,” he continued. “She’s there because of what she has accomplished. She’s not there as a partner or spouse.”

It was during a 2011 lecture at the U.S. Naval Academy when Sandberg first used the phrase “lean in.” A submarine sponsor is considered to be a permanent member of the ship’s crew and is believed to imprint their personality onto the vessel. Just last month, First Lady Michelle Obama christened the USS Illinois.


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