Virginia-class submarine ‘Illinois’ reaches Pearl Harbor homeport for first time

The US Navy’s recently-commissioned Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Illinois (SSN 786) moored at her new homeport in Hawaii for the first time on November 22.

Arriving at Pearl Harbor, USS Illinois (SSN 786) completed her homeport change from Groton, Connecticut, where it was built by General Dynamics Electric Boat.

Illinois is now assigned to Submarine Squadron One headquartered at Joint Base Pearl-Harbor Hickam.

It will be the 5th Virginia-class submarine stationed in Pearl Harbor.

“Settling into a new home is always a challenge but the Navy has an outstanding support structure in place for service members and their families which greatly reduces the stress,” said Cmdr. Neil J. Steinhagen, commanding officer of Illinois. “Programs like these allow us to focus more of the ship’s resources toward mission preparedness.”

Illinois was commissioned and christened by the ship’s sponsor, former First Lady Michelle Obama, during a ceremony at Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut, Oct. 29, 2016.

Illinois is also the third Block III submarine of the Virginia-class. Block III boats have been improved to enhance littoral operations and have special features to support Special Operation Forces, including a reconfigurable torpedo room that can accommodate a large number of Special Operation Forces and all of their equipment for prolonged deployments and future off-board payloads.

The Block III submarines have replaced the 12 individual Vertical Launch System (VLS) tubes with two 87-inch Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles. The VPTs simplify construction, reduce acquisition costs and provide for more payload flexibility than the smaller VLS tubes due to their added volume.