'Most Modern Submarine In The World' — Meet The New USS South Dakota

Military Tech

Ninety-two-year-old World War II veteran Richard "Dick" Hackley handed over the watch Saturday to Lt. Ben McFarland, a sailor assigned to the Navy's newest submarine.

Hackley served as a radar operator on the USS South Dakota (BB 57), among the most decorated battleships of the war.

McFarland, known as a plank owner, is among the first to serve on the fast-attack submarine USS South Dakota (SSN 790), which was commissioned at the Naval Submarine Base before a crowd of about 1,400 people. Another 800 watched on a screen from nearby Dealey Center on base.


Virginia-class fast-attack submarines like the South Dakota, with a crew of about 135 sailors, are designed to operate in various depths, from deep ocean environments to shallow coastal waters. The submarines can perform a variety of missions, including surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as hunt and sink other submarines and surface ships. They can launch land-attack missiles, torpedoes and mines.

Deanie Dempsey, wife of retired Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is the South Dakota's sponsor. Gen. Dempsey was in attendance Saturday, as were the couple's children and grandchildren, who were seated in the front row. Gov. Ned Lamont, in his first visit to the base, also attended the commissioning.

With the U.S. military strategy increasingly turning toward the world's oceans, the pace of submarine production has picked up. Over the next 20 years, it's estimated that nearly 30 more Virginia-class submarines will be built. Military officials frequently cite China's and Russia's efforts to seek dominance in their regions, and their pursuit of defense buildups aimed squarely at the U.S.

"Competitors seek to challenge us and challenge our dominance in the undersea. For that reason, I submit the nation must continue to build and maintain the finest submarines in the world," Vice Adm. Charles A. "Chas" Richard said.

South Dakota's stealth will allow the submarine to travel the world's oceans undetected, "collecting information, preparing for battle and, if necessary, striking from the deep swiftly and without warning, to answer the nation's call," Richard said.

The South Dakota took about five years to build. During that time, much changed at Electric Boat, which constructed the submarine with Newport News Shipbuilding. The workforce grew from 11,500 to 17,050, and more than half of the employees now are between the ages of 22 and 37, compared to 30 percent five years ago.

"The rise of the millennial generation emerging to lead Electric Boat's important work for the country, I believe, is a powerful rebuttal of cynics and naysayers that say that American manufacturing and technological excellence are a thing of the past," U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said during the commissioning ceremony.

The military also is seeing a generational shift, Courtney said, including the crew of the South Dakota. The crew's commanding officer, Cmdr. Craig E. Litty, said about 65 percent of the sailors have never served on a submarine before.

"I think we can honestly call South Dakota 'America's first millennial submarine' from construction to operation," Courtney said.

As Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., put it: "This isn't your grandfather's submarine."

The South Dakota is the first submarine in the Virginia class to be fitted with improvements that enhance its ability to collect intelligence and detect threats. Simply put, the South Dakota is "the most modern submarine in the world," EB President Jeffrey Geiger said.

The submarine is manned 24/7 and commissioning ceremonies are no exception. Twenty members of the crew were on board to keep watch over the boat during the ceremony.

———

©2019 The Day (New London, Conn.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

SEE ALSO: The Navy Is Testing A Coating That Could Let Submarines Glide More Easily Through Water

A video screen grab shows the USS South Dakota (SSN 790) at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn., on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, during it's commissioning ceremony. The ship is the Navy's newest fast attack submarine. (U.S. Navy video)
(DoD/U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

Patrick Shanahan has a message for the next generation of naval officers: what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Alexandria Crawford)

A new survey of thousands of military families released on Wednesday paints a negative picture of privatized military housing, to say the least.

The Military Family Advisory Network surveyed 15,901 adults at 160 locations around the country who are either currently living in privatized military housing, or had lived in privatized housing within the last three years. One of the report's primary takeaways can be summarized in two lines: "Most responses, 93 percent, came from residents living in housing managed by six companies. None of them had average satisfaction rates at or above neutral."

Those six companies are Lincoln Military Housing, Balfour Beatty, Hunt, Lendlease/Winn, Corvias, and Michaels.

What's behind these responses? MFAN points to the "culture of resilience" found in the military community for why military families may be downplaying the severity of their situations, or putting up with subpar conditions.

"[Military] families will try to manage grim living conditions without complaint," MFAN says in its report. "The norm of managing through challenges, no matter their severity, is deeply established in military family life."

Read More Show Less
(Waynesville Police Department)

Hailed as a hero for knocking a shooter off his feet in a UNC Charlotte classroom, Riley Howell was posthumously awarded two of the military's highest honors in his hometown of Waynesville, North Carolina this week.

Howell, 21, and classmate Ellis "Reed" Parlier, 19, died when a gunman opened fire in their classroom in the Kennedy building on April 30.

Read More Show Less
(Islamic State Group/Al Furqan Media Network/Reuters)

CAIRO (Reuters) - After losing territory, ISIS fighters are turning to guerrilla war — and the group's newspaper is telling them exactly how to do it.

In recent weeks, IS's al-Naba online newspaper has encouraged followers to adopt guerrilla tactics and published detailed instructions on how to carry out hit-and-run operations.

The group is using such tactics in places where it aims to expand beyond Iraq and Syria. While IS has tried this approach before, the guidelines make clear the group is adopting it as standard operating procedure.

Read More Show Less
(Department of Veterans Affairs photo)

A Department of Veterans affairs employee allegedly placing cameras in the women's restroom of a VA office in Washington, D.C., NBC News reported on Thursday.

Read More Show Less