Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg to sponsor new Navy submarine

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Sheryl Sandberg on a panel at the Fortune Global Forum - Day2 at the Fairmont Hotel on November 3, 2015 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for Fortune)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, is known for advocating women’s empowerment through her “Lean In” book and campaign. Now she’s been chosen to sponsor a Navy submarine.

It’s an unconventional choice for a sponsor, who christens the ship.

Sponsors are always women and have often been the wives of senior officers or politicians with close ties to the Navy. According to Navy lore, sponsors are said to imbue a ship with their personalities.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus chose Sandberg to sponsor the newest Virginia-class attack submarine, the USS Massachusetts.

The first time Sandberg used the phrase “lean in” was during a lecture at the U.S. Naval Academy in 2011.

Sandberg has publicly praised Mabus for empowering women.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut says the selection is an exciting statement about the Navy’s future.