This morning, the U.S. Navy will commission its newest attack submarine USS North Dakota at Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut. The “man our ship and bring her to life!” command will be given by Katie Fowler, the ship’s sponsor. Katie Fowler is the wife of retired Vice Admiral Jeff Fowler.
Designated SSN 784, the Navy’s newest attack submarine is the second ship named in honor of North Dakota and is the 11th Virginia-class submarine. While civilians typically refer to a water-craft vessel of more than 35 feet as a ship, this Examiner was informed by a submariner that sailors refer to subs as boats, no matter what her size.
Built by Electric Boat, a division of General Dynamics, her keel was laid in May of 2012. The latest North Dakota was delivered August 29, 2014. The original commissioning date of May 2014 was postponed due to quality issues and additional design work on the submarine’s bow. This design of attack submarines provides the Navy with underwater stealth and surveillance capabilities as well as special warfare “enhancements.”
The official release from the Navy:
North Dakota has the capability to attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters or other sea-based forces. Other missions include anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare; special forces delivery and support; and mine delivery and minefield mapping.
Virginia-class submarines are 7,800 tons and 377 feet in length, have a beam of 34 feet, and can operate at more than 25 knots submerged. The reactor plant will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time.
Powered by an S9G nuclear reactor, North Dakota has an essentially unlimited distance range and a life expectancy of more than 30 years. A full complement of sailors would be considered 134. Absolute maximum speed would be confidential. Two large-diameter “Virginia Payload Tubes” on the bow are each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles.
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