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Commissioning of USS Virginia Ushers in New Era of Undersea Warfare

Commissioning of USS Virginia Ushers in New Era of Undersea Warfare

By JOC (SW/AW) Mark O. Piggott, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet

Norfolk, Virginia -- (NNS) - The first nuclear-powered Virginia-class fast-attack submarine, USS Virginia (SSN 774), was commissioned Oct. 23 at Norfolk Naval Station here.

Mrs. Lynda Johnson Robb, the daughter of former President Lyndon Johnson and the sponsor of USS Virginia (SSN 774), announces to the crew to "man the ship, and bring her to life" at the commissioning ceremony of the newest class of fast attack submarines Oct. 23, 2004.

Mrs. Lynda Johnson Robb, the daughter of former President Lyndon Johnson and the sponsor of USS Virginia (SSN 774), announces to the crew to "man the ship, and bring her to life" at the commissioning ceremony of the newest class of fast attack submarines Oct. 23, 2004. U.S. Navy photo by PHAN Timothy Bensken.

 U.S. Navy photo by PHAN Timothy Bensken

Commander, Naval Submarine Forces, Vice Adm. Charles L. Munns gave the order to commission the ship.

"Capt. Kern, you and your men have much to be proud of, but also more work to do," Munns said. "You must steer Virginia around this dangerous and uncertain world. Guard her stealth, use her endurance, harvest her sensors, and make ready her firepower. I expect you to dominate any assignment from open-ocean to the contested littorals."

The crew of USS Virginia (SSN 774) man the ship during her commissioning ceremony in Norfolk, Va. on Oct 23. Virginia is the first submarine in the newest class of fast attack submarines designed specifically for post-Cold War missions. As the lead ship of the most capable class of nuclear attack submarines in the world, the Virginia has been designed from the ground up to operate as a key element of a joint naval force. Unobtrusive, non-provocative and connected with land, air, sea and space-based assets, Virginia-class ships are uniquely equipped to wage multi-dimensional warfare in the farthest reaches of the globe, providing the U.S. Navy with continued dominance in coastal waters or the open ocean. These submarines will transit submerged at high speeds, undetected, independent of sea state or logistic support and arrive on station ready for action. U.S. Navy photo by JO2 Christina M. Shaw.

U.S. Navy photo by JO2 Christina M. Shaw

Virginia is the ninth U.S. naval vessel to be named for the "Old Dominion."

The Virginia-class submarine is the Navy's first delivered major combatant designed with the post-Cold War security environment in mind. She embodies the war-fighting and operational capabilities required to dominate the littorals while maintaining undersea dominance in the open ocean.

Virginia Gov. Mark Warner said he was proud to have the lead ship of the class named for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

"Virginia's support of the United States Navy goes back to the founding of our country when the first USS Virginia was commissioned in 1777," Warner said. "Virginia values its long-standing relationship with the Navy and is proud so many vessels call the Commonwealth home."

"With new tools like the USS Virginia and other Virginia-class fast-attack submarines, this nation will continue to have the best equipped and best trained military in the world," he concluded.

Under an innovative agreement, General Dynamics Electric Boat is producing the Virginia-class submarines as part of a team effort with Northrop Grumman Newport News. Virginia has improved stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that enable it to meet the Navy's multi-mission requirements. With a modular design, the Virginia class will be able to accommodate technology upgrades throughout the life of the class.

"We need this submarine and its capabilities at sea," Clark said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark. "Virginia is designed to take care of and defeat the enemies of the 21st century."

"She will bring her greatest capability - her stealth - into the war-fighting calculus in a way that will tremendously complicate life for our future and potential enemies and greatly enhance our own war-fighting capabilities," he added.

Groton, Conn. (Oct. 13, 2004) -- The Precommissioning Unit (PCU) Virginia (SSN 774), with the help of the tugboats C-Tractor 6 and Paul A. Wronowski, arrived at Naval Submarine Base New London for the first time Oct. 13. Virginia, the first submarine in a new class of submarines designed specifically for post-Cold War missions was delivered to the Navy on Oct 12. The submarine will be commissioned Oct. 23 in Norfolk, Va. As the lead ship of the most capable class of nuclear attack submarines in the world, Virginia has been designed from the ground up to operate as a key element of a joint naval force. Unobtrusive, non-provocative and connected with land, air, sea and space-based assets, Virginia-class ships are uniquely equipped to wage multi-dimensional warfare in the farthest reaches of the globe, providing the U.S. Navy with continued dominance in coastal waters or the open ocean. These submarines will transit submerged at high speeds, undetected, independent of sea state or logistic support and arrive on station ready for action. With their stealth and unlimited endurance, they will be flexible assets for Joint Force Commanders, able to maneuver with impunity, even in the most contested forward areas. (Photo by JO1 (SW/AW) Mark A. Savage).

Virginia is 377 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 34 feet, a navigational draft of 32 feet, displaces approximately 7,800 tons submerged, can dive to depths greater than 800 feet, and can sustain speeds of more than 25 knots when submerged.

According to Virginia's Commanding Officer, Capt. David C. Kern, his proudest moment was a foggy day in Groton, Conn., when he first took Virginia to sea.

"The fog was thick as I stood on the sail of Virginia, returning from our first underway," Kern explained. "Her engines pulsing with power, her crew having operated the boat for the first time. On that day, I was filled with pride for the accomplishments of this crew."

"We had taken to sea the world's most complex and innovative submarine, delivered within months of a date set nearly 10 years earlier," he added, "initiating the most successful set of sea trials ever accomplished by the lead ship of a submarine class."

Virginia can attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters and other sea forces. Virginia also has superior anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare capabilities, is able to provide special forces delivery and support, and can conduct mine delivery and minefield mapping.

Warner, the principal speaker at the commissioning ceremony, spoke of the responsibility of the men who will serve aboard Virginia.

"It will not be the steel and the technology that's been put together so magnificently by these two yards," Warner said. "You, the crew, will decide the record of history and accomplishment of this ship."

"By giving you this trust," he continued, "it shows our deep respect for the training that you have had and the capabilities you will perform magnificently."

Virginia will be home-ported in Groton, Conn. Ten of a projected 30 Virginia-class submarines are under contract to be built by General Dynamics Electric Boat and Northrop Grumman Newport News. PCU Texas (SSN 775), PCU Hawaii (SSN 776) and PCU North Carolina (SSN 777) are currently under construction and are scheduled to join the fleet over the next three years.

"This nation is a leader in the world, and the entire world looks to us to lead in the cause of freedom," Warner added. "We cannot ever blink, we cannot ever flinch, we cannot yield. We must remain strong and lead the world, and this ship will very definitely play a role in that war on terror."


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).

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