By Courtney E. Howard
GROTON, Conn.—General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, Conn., christened the fast attack submarine USS New Hampshire (SSN-778), considered the U.S. Navy’s most advanced nuclear submarine, in a shipyard ceremony. The christening coincided with the 220th anniversary of New Hampshire’s statehood, on June 21, 2008.
New Hampshire is the fifth ship in the Virginia class of next-generation fast attack submarines designed to counter post-Cold War threats and safeguard the nation in the 21st century.
“Unobtrusive, non-provocative, and connected with land, air, sea, and space-based assets, New Hampshire and the other Virginia-class submarines are equipped to wage multidimensional warfare around the globe, providing the U.S. Navy with continued dominance in coastal waters or the open ocean,” says a representative of Electric Boat, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics Corp.
New Hampshire, SSN 778, has already achieved several milestones. The first submarine to be built in four sections (compared to 10 for the first ship in the class), New Hampshire represents a significant advancement in modular, timely, and cost-saving construction.
Navy Adm. Kirkland Donald, director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion, noted during the christening that the New Hampshire will be delivered almost eight months ahead of its contracted delivery date, and an estimated $54 million under its budget.
“New Hampshire is the first Virginia-class ship built to a dramatically shortened schedule that delivers the ship to the fleet in 72 months, down from 84,” says Robert A. Hamilton, director of Communications, General Dynamics Electric Boat. “New Hampshire will also be the first submarine of its class delivered to the Navy with its hull coating already applied, increasing its operational availability by reducing—from roughly one year to a few months—the time needed for its post-shakedown availability.”
New Hampshire is the first nuclear submarine to fire test shapes, mock torpedoes used as proof of weapons handling and firing equipment, before christening. “In addition,” Hamilton continues, “it was the first Virginia-class ship to go 12-for-12, marking 12 consecutive successful launches, three each from the four tubes.”
The current record for the construction of a modern submarine is 34 weeks from putting the boat in the water to delivery. “We’re on a track to deliver New Hampshire 27 weeks after it was put in the water,” saya Hamilton.
New Hampshire will measure 377 feet in length, will dive to depths greater than 800 feet, and will be able to sustain speeds greater than 25 knots when submerged. Construction started in January 2004 and her keel was laid on April 20, 2007 at General Dynamics’ Electric Boat facility in Quonset Point, R.I.
General Dynamics and its construction partner Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., are contracted to build 30 ships, 10 of which are Virginia-class craft.
The ship’s sponsor is Cheryl McGuinness of Portsmouth, N.H., who lost her husband, Tom McGuinness, the co-pilot of American Airlines Flight 11 that was flown into the north tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard will host the Commissioning of the U.S. Navy’s newest Virginia-class submarine, Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) New Hampshire (SSN 778) at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, in October.
For more information, visit www.gdeb.com and www.generaldynamics.com.