The newest Virginia-class fast-attack submarine, USS South Dakota (SSN 790), will be commissioned at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut, Feb. 2, 2019, the US Navy has announced.
South Dakota is the seventeenth Virginia-class submarine to join the fleet.
SSN 790 is entering service after being delivered to the navy in a ceremony on Sept. 24, 2018.
South Dakota began construction in 2013 as the seventh Block III submarine. Block III submarines feature a redesigned bow with enhanced payload capabilities, replacing 12 individual vertical launch tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes, each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles. Some 20 percent of the Block III vessels was redesigned to reduce acquisition costs.
Deanie Dempsey, wife of retired Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, who served as the 18th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is the ship’s sponsor.
South Dakota has special features to support SOF, 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. Also, in Virginia-class SSNs, traditional periscopes have been replaced by two photonics masts that host visible and infrared digital cameras atop telescoping arms.
South Dakota will be the third US Navy ship, and first submarine, to be commissioned bearing the name “South Dakota.” The first USS South Dakota (ACR9/CA 9) was a Pennsylvania-class armored cruiser and 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. She was then sent on a cruise to Samoa and later operated in Central and South American Waters. She 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. She saw action in the Battle of Savo Island, Battle of Philippine Sea, Okinawa, Iwo Jima, and other Japanese strongholds earning 13 battle stars.