US Navy to christen 16th Virginia-class submarine

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The U.S. Navy announced it would christen its newest Virginia-class fast attack submarine, the future USS Indiana (SSN 789), on Saturday, April 29, at Huntington Ingalls Shipyard in Newport News, Virginia.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who previously served as the 50th governor of Indiana, will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Diane Donald, wife of retired Adm. Kirkland H. Donald, director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion from 2004 to 2012, is serving as the ship’s sponsor.

“The christening of the future USS Indiana brings this technological marvel one step closer to joining the world’s preeminent submarine force,” Sean Stackley, acting secretary of the Navy, said.

Indiana (SSN 789) is the 16th Virginia-class fast attack submarine and the sixth Virginia-class Block III submarine. This next-generation attack submarine provides the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation’s undersea superiority well into the 21st century.

The submarine, which began construction in 2012, will be the third U.S. Navy ship to be christened with the name Indiana. The first Indiana (BB-1), the lead ship of her class of battleship, served in the North Atlantic and later participated in the blockade of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish-American War. The second Indiana (BB-58) was a South Dakota-class battleship that earned nine battle stars for her service in the Pacific Theater in World War II. BB-58 fought in the Battle of the Philippine Sea and participated in the invasions of Tarawa, Kwajalein and Okinawa, and bombarded Saipan, the Palau Islands, the Philippines and Iwo Jima.

Indiana will have the capability to attack targets ashore with Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters or other sea-based forces.

Missiles on Block III submarines are launched from two tubes with twelve missiles instead of twelve separate missile tubes their sister ships had. This is a feature borrowed from the Ohio-class SSGNs.

Block III submarines from boat eleven onward also feature a revised bow and a number of other changes.

Virginia-class submarines, built under a teaming arrangement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News, are 7,800 tons and 377 feet in length, have a beam of 34 feet, and can operate at more than 25 knots submerged. They are built with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship.

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