Newest US Navy nuclear submarine completes first voyage

The U.S. Navy’s newest Virginia-class submarine, USS Illinois (SSN-786), returned from its maiden open seas voyage after having completed alpha sea trials.

General Dynamics Electric Boat, the company in charge of constructing the stealth submarines, informed that the 13th ship of the Virginia class returned to the Groton, Connecticut shipyard on July 31.

Illinois’ alpha sea trials included a range of submarine and propulsion-plant operations, submerging for the first time and high-speed runs on and below the surface to demonstrate that the ship’s propulsion plant is fully mission-capable.

The sea trials were directed by U.S. Navy Adm. James F. Caldwell Jr., director – Naval Nuclear Propulsion. Also participating in the sea trials were Capt. Jeffrey Heydon, supervisor of shipbuilding in Groton, and Jeffrey S. Geiger, president of Electric Boat. Illinois is commanded by Cmdr. Jesse Porter.

“The crew and shipbuilders worked together seamlessly to take this submarine to sea and put it through its paces,” said Geiger. “It was a superb effort by everyone involved, and reflects the commitment of the Navy and industry team to sustain the success of the Virginia-class submarine program. I deeply appreciate the contributions made by the Navy personnel, shipbuilders and suppliers who made it happen.”

USS Illinois was christened by First Lady Michelle Obama, the ship’s sponsor, on October 10, 2015.

Electric Boat and its construction teammate, Newport News Shipbuilding, have delivered 12 Virginia-class submarines to the Navy so far while fifteen more of the class are under contract.

Virginia-class submarines displace 7,835 tons, with a hull length of 377 feet and a diameter of 34 feet. They are capable of speeds in excess of 25 knots and can dive to a depth greater than 800 feet, while carrying Mark 48 advanced capability torpedoes and Tomahawk land-attack missiles.