The commissioning ceremony for the U.S. Navy’s newest Virginia-class fast attack submarine, the future USS Delaware (SSN 791), has been postponed due to health concerns amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
The commissioning was initially scheduled on April 4 at Port of Wilmington in Delaware.
Delaware was delivered to the Navy by its builder Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) last year. She is the ninth Virginia-class submarine to be delivered by NNS and the 18th overall built as part of a teaming agreement with General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB).
The boat is also the Navy’s eighth and last Virginia-class Block III submarine that features a revised bow, including some technology from Ohio-class nuclear powered guided-missile submarines (SSGNs). The next ten Virginia class SSNs will be constructed in Block IV configuration.
The contract to build future USS Delaware was awarded to HII in partnership with GDEB on Dec. 22, 2008. More than 10,000 shipbuilders from Newport News and Electric Boat have participated in Delaware’s construction since the work began in September 2013.
Delaware was christened by Jill Biden, the former Second Lady of the United States and the ship’s sponsor, during a ceremony in October 2018. The submarine is the newest Navy vessel named for the country’s first state, following the dreadnought battleship USS Delaware (BB 28) that was delivered by Newport News in 1910. The boat was launched into the James River for the first time two months after the christening.
The boat successfully completed her initial sea trials when she was submerged for the first time and performed high-speed maneuvers on the surface and underwater. During trials, she spent three days at sea proving all of its systems, components and compartments.
Delaware is 115 m long, 10 m wide, has a maximum draft of 9.8 m and will displace 7,800 tonnes. She is propelled by nuclear power, has a single propeller and a complement of 15 officers and 117 enlisted crew members.
In the case of Block III Virginia-class submarines, the Navy redesigned approximately 20 percent of the ship to reduce acquisition costs. They feature a redesigned bow, which replaces 12 individual Vertical Launch System (VLS) tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes each capable of launching six Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs), among other design changes that reduced the submarines’ acquisition cost while maintaining their outstanding warfighting capabilities.
Virginia-class submarines, a class of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines (SSNs), are built for a broad spectrum of open-ocean and littoral missions to replace the Navy’s Los Angeles-class submarines. They incorporate dozens of new technologies and innovations that increase firepower, maneuverability, and stealth.