U.S. Navy Commissions 21st Virginia-class Submarine USS Montana (SSN 794)

Gov. Greg Gianforte of Montana delivered the principal address. Additional speakers included U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia’s 3rd District; Undersecretary of the Navy Erik Raven; Adm. James Caldwell, director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program; and Ms. Jennifer Boykin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding.

USS Montana (SSN 794) honors the Treasure State and will be the second commissioned warship bearing the name. The first USS Montana (ACR-13), an armored cruiser, was also built at Newport News Shipbuilding and commissioned in July 1908. ACR-13 served in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, landed Marines during unrest in Haiti in 1914, and escorted convoys during World War I. The Navy decommissioned the first USS Montana in 1921, and two other vessels named after the state never saw commissioned service.

Montana is the third Block IV Virginia-class submarine to enter service, designed to carry out the core missions 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. These capabilities allow the submarine force to operate anywhere, at any time, and contribute to regional stability and the preservation of future peace.

Montana 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 has a crew of approximately 136 Navy personnel. Montana was built by Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII)’s Newport News Shipbuilding division as part of the teaming agreement with General Dynamics’ Electric Boat.

More than 10,000 shipbuilders from Newport News Shipbuilding and Electric Boat have participated in Montana’s construction since the work began in May 2015. The submarine was christened by the ship’s sponsor, former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, during a ceremony in September 2020.

Virginia-class Block IV

Block IV submarines (SSNs 792 to 801) incorporate design changes focused on reduced total ownership cost (RTOC). By making these smaller-scale design changes to increase the component-level lifecycle of the submarine, the U.S. Navy will increase the periodicity between depot maintenance availabilities and increase the number of deployments.

USS Delaware (SSN 791), the last and final of eight Block III Virginia-class submarines, was commissioned in April 2020. 

The Block III submarines are fitted with the 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 (TLAMS). The Block III submarines are built with two larger 87-inch diameter tubes able to house six TLAMS each.

Blocks I-III Virginias are planned to undergo four depot maintenance availabilities and conduct 14 deployments. Block IV RTOC efforts are intended to reduce planned availabilities by one to three and increase deployments to 15. The U.S. Navy refers to this as 3:15.

Block IV will be followed by the Block V configuration which involves 10 boats and may incorporate the Virginia Payload Module (VPM), which would give guided-missile capability when the SSGNs are retired from service. On 2 December 2019, the U.S. Navy announced an order for nine new Virginia-class submarines – eight Block Vs and one Block IV – for a total contract price of $22 billion with an option for a tenth boat. The Block V subs were confirmed to have an increased length, from 377 ft to 460 ft, and displacement, from 7,800 tons to 10,200 tons.

Submarines in Block IV configuration :

  • Vermont (SSN 792) – Commissioned 18 April 2020
  • Oregon (SSN 793) – Commissioned 26 May 2022
  • Montana (SSN 794) – Commissioned 25 June, 2022
  • Hyman G. Rickover (SSN 795) – Christened 31 July 2021
  • New Jersey (SSN 796) – Launched 28 April 2022
  • Iowa (SSN 797) – Keel laid August 20, 2019
  • Massachusetts (SSN 798) – Keel laid December 11, 2020
  • Idaho (SSN 799) – Keel laid 24 August 24, 2020
  • Arkansas (SSN 800) – Construction began March 2018
  • Utah (SSN 801) – Construction began March 2018

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