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ArcelorMittal USA plate was used to make the USS Illinois submarine, a 377-foot-long vessel that can travel at more than 25 knots while submerged. 

The $2.7 billion Virginia-class submarine, which weighs 7,835 tons, was commissioned in December and can be used against submarines, surface ships and mines, as well as for surveillance and covert strike missions. A  Virginia-class is a nuclear-powered attack submarine.

ArcelorMittal plates are used throughout the hull, including the nuclear reactor, of a ship that's capable of being submerged to extreme depths for months on end.

"We have supplied steel plate to virtually every submarine in the Navy’s existing fleet," ArcelorMittal USA plate sales manager Matt Habenicht said in the news release.

"As the only 'made and manufactured in the USA' producer of Navy armor plate, we are currently the sole qualified U.S. supplier of these grades of steel to the Navy, especially on these Virginia-class submarines."

Plate made at ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor in Porter County goes into many Navy vessels, including the new aircraft carrier CVN 78 Gerald R. Ford, Littoral Combat Ships, and DDG Destroyers like that used to rescue Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates.

"ArcelorMittal and legacy companies have a long, rich history of supporting our nation’s defense capabilities," Habenicht said.

"There is tremendous pride for our employees in this effort. When you know one of your family members or neighbors has a child or relative that may be aboard one of these ships, you pay extra attention to details when manufacturing their products."

The steel mill in Burns Harbor makes half of the 50,000 tons of steel needed for an aircraft carrier, U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky said while addressing the Lake County Economic Alliance in Schererville last week.

"We need steel not only for a strong economy, but also for a strong defense," the Merrillville Democrat said last week.

"You need a strong industrial base. We've been so successful as a country in global conflicts, because we've out-produced our enemies. But today, we buy rocket engines from Russia. We buy electronics for weapon systems from China."

Visclosky recently worked with fellow members of the Congressional Steel Caucus to keep a requirement the military buy only American-made steel after the Department of Defense requested that it be waived for this year's budget. American steelmakers make armor plate, ball bearings and mooring chains, among other products, for the Navy.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.