U.S. Navy commissions its newest fast attack submarine, USS Washington

The U.S.  Navy has commissioned its newest Virginia-class fast attack submarine, USS Washington (SSN-787), on Saturday, Oct. 7, at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia.

Mr. Thomas Dee, performing the duties of the Under Secretary of the Navy, has delivered the ceremony’s principal address. The submarine’s sponsor is Elisabeth Mabus, daughter of the 75th Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. In a time-honored Navy tradition, she had given the order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”

The USS Washington is the 14th Virginia-class nuclear submarine and the fourth of eight Virginia-class Block III submarine. The ship began construction in 2011.

Washington is the fourth U.S. Navy ship, and first submarine, to be named honoring the State of Washington. The previous three ships were an armored cruiser, (ACR 11), which served from 1905 to 1916, the battleship (BB 47) a Colorado-class battleship launched in 1921 and sunk as a gunnery target in 1924 after her construction was halted, and the battleship (BB 56) credited with sinking more enemy tonnage than any other U.S. Navy battleship during World War II, serving from 1941 to 1947.

The submarine is 377 feet long, has a 34-foot beam, and will be able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged. It will operate for over 30 years without ever refueling.

The Block III submarines feature a redesigned bow with new Virginia Payload Tubes designed to lower costs and increase missile-firing payload possibilities. The first 10 Block I and Block II Virginia class submarines have 12 individual 21-inch diameter vertical launch tubes able to fire Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMS). The Block III submarines are built with two-larger 87-inch diameter tubes able to house six Tomahawk cruise missiles each.

This, among other design changes, reduced the submarines’ acquisition cost while maintaining their outstanding warfighting capabilities.

Washington is a flexible, multi-mission platform designed to carry out the seven core competencies of the submarine force: anti-submarine warfare (ASW); anti-surface warfare (ASuW); delivery of special operations forces (SOF); strike warfare; irregular warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR); and mine warfare.

Their inherent stealth, endurance, mobility, and firepower directly enable them to support five of the six maritime strategy core capabilities – sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence.

Construction on Washington began September 2011; the submarine’s keel was authenticated during a ceremony on Nov. 22, 2014; and the submarine was christened during a ceremony March 5, 2016.

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