USS La Jolla Approaches Conversion into Moored Training Ship

The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS La Jolla (SSN 701) arrived at its new homeport in Norfolk, Virginia, Nov. 10. Under the command of Cmdr. Kevin Roach, the submarine was previously assigned to Commander, Submarine Squadron One, homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The submarine arrives in Norfolk to begin its conversion to a Moored Training Ship (MTS). La Jolla will remain at Norfolk Naval Station until it is transported in February to Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia, for the 32-month MTS conversion.

During the conversion the La Jolla will have its missile compartments removed, but will have fully operational reactor power plants. It will be equipped with a diesel-powered Supplemental Water Injection System to provide emergency cooling water in the unlikely event of an accident.

Roach, a 1995 graduate of the University of Texas with a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering, said:

La Jolla is being converted to a state-of-the-art moored training ship.

La Jolla was chosen as the next MTS based on her service life and amount of nuclear fuel remaining. If not converted, the submarine would have been inactivated and decommissioned in 2015.

Once converted La Jolla will be designated Moored Training Ship (MTS 701), and will assigned to the Nuclear Power Training Unit (NPTU) at Naval Support Activity in Charleston, South Carolina. At NPTU, the ship will provide a platform for Naval officers and enlisted personnel to train in the operation, maintenance and supervision of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Plants.

The ship will be the first Los Angeles-class submarine to undergo conversion to a NPTU. The current NPTUs in service at Charleston are Daniel Webster (MTS 626), a converted Lafayatte-class ballistic-missile submarine, and Sam Rayburn (MTS 635), a converted James Madison-class ballistic-missile submarine. Sam Rayburn was reclassified as MTS 635 in July 1989 and will remain in service until May 2019. Daniel Webster was designated MTS 626 in August 1990 and will remain in service until November 2022.

La Jolla will remain in service for the majority of the conversion until its reclassification to MTS around Aug 2017 a few months before the boat is scheduled to complete conversion. La Jolla is expected to provide 20 years of service as a MTS.

Commissioned Oct. 24, 1981 at Naval Submarine Base, New London, connecticut, La Jolla was the first warship named after the township of La Jolla, California, and the 14th ship of the nuclear-powered Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarines. It is 362-feet long, and displaces 6,900 tons. The submarine can be armed with sophisticated Mark-48 Advanced Capability (ADCAP) anti-submarine torpedoes and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles.

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Press release, Image: US Navy