The U.S. Navy, with assistance from the submarine's sponsor Elisabeth Mabus, daughter of the 75th Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, commissioned the newest Virginia class submarine, USS Washington (SSN 787), during a ceremony on board Naval Station Norfolk, on October 7.
USS Washington, named in honor of the 42nd state, is the 14th Virginia-class, fast-attack submarine to join the Navy's operational fleet.
The $2.6 billion submarine is the fourth of eight Block III Virginia-class submarines to be built. The Block III submarines are built with new Virginia Payload Tubes designed to lower costs and increase missile-firing payload possibilities. The first 10 Block I and Block II Virginia class submarines have 12 individual 21-inch diameter vertical launch tubes able to fire Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles. The Block III submarines are built with two-larger 87-inch diameter tubes able to house six such missiles each.
USS Washington commanding officer, Cmdr. Gabriel Cavazos, highlighted the Washington's capability to dominate the undersea domain and enable military success in any engagement.
"As I have told the crew on many occasions, they are the most important component of the ship. They give the ship its personality and war-fighting spirit. Without the crew, Washington would not be the war-fighting platform she was built to be; however, combine the two, and, together, we are the Blackfish," said Cavazos.
USS Washington is a flexible, multi-mission platform designed to carry out the seven core competencies of the submarine force: anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; delivery of special operations forces; strike warfare; irregular warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and mine warfare. Their inherent stealth, endurance, mobility, and firepower directly enable them to support five of the six maritime strategy core capabilities: sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security and deterrence.
The submarine is 377 feet long, has a 34-foot beam, and will be able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged. It will operate for over 30 years without ever refueling.
The Navy awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding, partnered with Electric Boat Division, General Dynamics, a contract to build USS Washington (SSN-787) in December 2008. Construction began on September 2, 2011.USS Washington was laid down on November 22, 2014 at Newport News; launched on March 25, 2016; completed her initial sea trials on April 3, 2017 and was delivered to the Navy on May 26, 2017.
USS Washington is the fourth U.S. Navy ship, and first submarine, to be named honoring the State of Washington. The previous three ships were an armored cruiser, (ACR 11), which served from 1905 to 1916, the battleship (BB 47) a Colorado-class battleship launched in 1921 and sunk as a gunnery target in 1924 after her construction was halted, and the battleship (BB 56) credited with sinking more enemy tonnage than any other U.S. Navy battleship during World War II, serving from 1941 to 1947.