Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus Names Virginia
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus Names
From Secretary of the Navy Public Affairs.
Foxborough, Massasuchets — (NNS)
— November 8, 2015 — Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that SSN 798, a Virginia-class
attack submarine, will bear the name USS Massachusetts during a taped video
message at Gillette Stadium.
The submarine PCU John Warner (SSN 785) conducts sea trials in the
The submarine will be named to honor the history its namesake state has with
the Navy. This history extends to 1775, before the official founding of the
United States, to the time when George Washington founded the Continental Navy
in an effort to protect the 13 colonies from British attack. By 1800, six years
after the establishment of the Department of the Navy, one of its first 14 ship
yards was incorporated in Boston. And in 1836, The Boston Naval Hospital, one of
the first of three hospitals dedicated solely to the care of naval personnel,
The future USS Massachusetts will be the fifth Navy vessel to serve under
that name; the first, a wooden steamer, was a privately owned ship built in
Boston in 1845 and purchased by the War Department in 1847. It served as a troop
transport for the Army before being transferred to the Department of the Navy in
1849. Before being decommissioned in 1852, it served by scouting potential sites
for lighthouses on the West Coast. After being recommissioned in 1854, it
transported guns and ammunition during the Puget Sound War. Five years later, it
was transferred back to the Army to cruise the Puget Sound providing protection
for the inhabitants of the region. In 1862, it was transferred back to the Navy
and a year later was converted to a storeship serving in this capacity until its
final decommission in 1867.
The second Massachusetts, built in 1860, also in Boston, was bought and
commissioned by the Navy in 1861. She was an iron screw steamer whose service
spanned for the entire Civil War. A day after joining her squadron in Pensacola,
Florida, Massachusetts took her first British ship, Perthshire. Over the course
of the next month, Massachusetts overpowered seven more ships of Mexican and
Confederate origins. Her record continued along these lines until the end of the
year when she worked at intercepting Confederate freight shipments in Ship
Island's passage until early 1862 when she was decommissioned in New York. She
commissioned again in April of that year and served as a supply ship until
December when she decommissioned again. In 1863, she recommissioned and
continued defeating Confederate ships until the end of the war in 1865.
The third ship to bear the name had a long history. A battleship commissioned
in 1896, it spent the first two years of its service conducting training
exercises off the Atlantic coast before being assigned to blockade duties in
Cuba in 1898. There she bombarded a Spanish cruiser and multiple fortifications.
A couple of months later, Massachusetts returned to her duties cruising the
Atlantic Coast for about seven years before briefly becoming a training ship for
the Naval Academy. Shortly thereafter she began a pattern of being
decommissioned and recommissioned to serve as a training ship before moving to
Yorktown, Virginia in 1918 to become a heavy gun target practice ship until the
end of World War I. A year later, Massachusetts was decommissioned for a final
The final Massachusetts was a battleship commissioned during the middle of
World War II, in 1942. Within days of being launched, she had joined the
conflict off the coast of North Africa and sunk two French ships. In addition,
she played a vital role during the war for her defense against the Japanese,
largely through her participation in fleet and air strikes. She was
decommissioned in 1947, but received 11 Battle Stars for her actions and has
been preserved in Fall River, Massachusetts as a memorial for those who served
in World War II.
Virginia-class attack submarines provide the Navy with the capabilities
required to maintain the nation's undersea supremacy well into the 21st century.
They have enhanced stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special
warfare enhancements that will enable them to meet the Navy's multi-mission
These submarines have 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; mine delivery and minefield mapping. They
are also designed for special forces delivery and support.
Each Virginia-class submarine is 7,800-tons and 377 feet in length, has a
beam of 34 feet, and can operate at more than 25 knots submerged. They are
designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned
life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time. The
submarine will be built under a unique teaming agreement between General
Dynamics Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industries' Newport News
Shipbuilding division wherein both companies build certain portions of each
submarine and then alternate deliveries. Massachusetts will be delivered by
Huntington Ingalls Industries' Newport News Shipbuilding.
For more information about the Virginia-class attack submarine, visit