On February 2, 2019, the U.S. Navy welcomed its newest submarine – USS South Dakota. SSN 790 is the seventeenth Virginia- class submarine to join the fleet. The newest member of the fleet features a redesigned bow, having two large-diameter Virginia Payload tubes instead of the 12 individual vertical launch system. Each of these VPT’s can launch six Tomahawk cruise missiles. The traditional periscopes have been replaced by two photonics masts that have infrared digital cameras on telescoping arms.
SSN 790 is the third ship to bear the South Dakota name. The first was a cruiser that was used between 1904 and 1912. The second ship was BB-57, a battleship that was commissioned in 1942. She played a vital role in blocking Japanese forces from entering Guadalcanal. During her service, she earned 13 battle stars and was present in Toyoko Bay when Japan formally surrender on Sept 2, 1945. A few of the WWII veterans who served aboard BB-57 were invited to the commissioning of SSN 790.
The commissioning fell during the arctic blast that had been making its way across the country that week, creating for bitter conditions while outdoors. This did not keep the spectators away, with many flying in from South Dakota to witness the commissioning.
During the weekend of festivities, those invited to the commissioning were able to take a tour of the Navy’s newest submarine. One highlight is being able to see the heavily decorated dining hall onboard that pays tribute to its namesake state.
Welcome to the fleet USS South Dakota!