The U.S. Navy christened its newest attack submarine, the future USS South Dakota (SSN 790) on Saturday at General Dynamics Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton, Connecticut.
The submarine's sponsor is Mrs. Deanie Dempsey, wife of the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey.
South Dakota is the 17th Virginia-class attack submarine and the seventh Virginia-class Block III submarine. The ship began construction in 2013 and is contracted to deliver in August 2018. South Dakota will provide the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation's undersea superiority well into the 21st century.
Block III Virginia-class submarines feature a redesigned bow, which replaces 12 individual launch tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes, each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Virginia-class submarines are built to operate in the world's littoral and deep waters while conducting anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface ship warfare; strike warfare; special operation forces support; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions. 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.
South Dakota is the third ship to bear the state's name. The second ship was a battleship that stood as the lead ship of her class and earned 13 battle stars during her extensive service in the Pacific theater during World War II.