The Navy will commission its newest fast attack submarine, the future USS South Dakota (SSN 790), during an 11 a.m. (EST) ceremony Saturday, Feb. 2, at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut.
The principal speaker will be U.S. Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota. The submarine’s sponsor is Mrs. Deanie Dempsey, wife of the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey. She will give the order to “man our ship and bring her to life!” in a time-honored Navy tradition.
“USS South Dakota enters service during a period of dynamic security challenges,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “I am confident USS South Dakota and its crew will ensure our Navy and nation remain safe and strong, and proudly serve our nation’s interest for decades to come.”
USS South Dakota, a Virginia-class submarine designated SSN 790, is the third ship to bear the state’s name. The first South Dakota was an armored cruiser commissioned Jan. 27, 1908. The ship served in a convoy escort role during World War I before being renamed Huron June 7, 1920. She was decommissioned following seven years of service in the Pacific on June 17, 1927. The second ship was a battleship commissioned March 20, 1942. She saw service in a number of important World War II battles including Santa Cruz, Guadalcanal, Philippine Sea, and Okinawa, earning thirteen battle stars over the course of the war. South Dakota was present at Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered and was later placed out of commission on Jan. 31, 1947.
USS South Dakota is the 17th Virginia-class attack submarine and the seventh Virginia-class Block III submarine. Virginia-class submarines are built to operate in the world’s littoral and deep waters while conducting anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface ship warfare; strike warfare; special operation forces support; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions. 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.
Live Stream of USS South Dakota Commissioning Ceremony:
Five Things to Know About USS South Dakota (SSN 790)
- Namesake: USS South Dakota is named after the 40th state added to the Union.
The submarine is the third ship to be christened “South Dakota.” The first USS South Dakota (ACR9/CA 9) was launched in 1904. Assigned to the Armored Cruiser Squadron, Pacific Fleet, South Dakota cruised off the west coast of the United States through August 1908. It was then sent on a cruise to Samoa and later operated in Central and South American waters. It returned home in 1912 and was placed in reserve at Puget Sound Navy Yard. The second USS South Dakota (BB 57) was commissioned March 1942 and assigned to Task Force 16 centered on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV 6). South Dakota conducted blockade operations against Japanese forces approaching Guadalcanal, where they engaged Japanese carrier forces in the Battle of Santa Cruz. BB-57 saw action in the Battle of Savo Island, Battle of Philippine Sea, Okinawa, Iwo Jima, and other Japanese strongholds earning 13 battle stars.
- Sponsor: Deanie Dempsey, wife of former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman and retired Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, is the ship’s sponsor and will be in attendance for the commissioning.
Deanie spent several decades of service in support of the Army, before becoming a champion for all of the services in her role as the chairman’s spouse. In that capacity, she has engaged in countless activities in support of military families, coached and mentored military spouses of all services, participated in dozens of private and charitable organizations, traveled the world representing the United States military, hosted visits to the United States by the spouses of foreign military leaders, and coordinated the family support activities of the White House and Department of Defense.
- Size/Endurance: 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 while displacing approximately 7,800 tons submerged. It will operate for over 30 years without ever refueling.
- Capability: South Dakota is the seventh Block III submarine of the Virginia-class.
The Virginia class has been improved to enhance littoral operations. The class has special features to support Special Operations Forces, including a reconfigurable torpedo room which can accommodate a large number of SOF and all their equipment for prolonged deployments and future off-board payloads. The class also has a large lock-in/lock-out chamber for divers. Traditional periscopes have been replaced by two photonics masts that host visible and infrared digital cameras atop telescoping arms. The Block III submarines have replaced the 12 individual Vertical Launch System (VLS) tubes with two 87-inch Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles. The VPTs simplify construction, reduce acquisition costs, and provide for more payload flexibility than the smaller VLS tubes due to their added volume.
- Missions: South Dakota is a flexible, multi-mission platform designed to carry out the seven core competencies of the submarine force: anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; delivery of special operations forces; strike warfare; irregular warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and mine warfare.