Hugh Lessig, Newport News Daily Press
26 May 2015
The submarine John Warner successfully completed initial sea trials Saturday, submerging for the first time and running at high speeds to test its systems, Huntington Ingalls Industries said Tuesday.
The ship is 99 percent complete and should be delivered to the Navy next month, three months ahead of schedule, the shipbuilder said.
The Virginia-class attack submarine is named for the retired senator who helped shape naval policy during his 30 years on Capitol Hill, earning respect in both military and political circles. Only two other submarines have been named for living people: one for former President Jimmy Carter and one for Adm. Hyman Rickover, the father of the nuclear Navy.
The submarine will undergo more tests before its delivery to the Navy. It will be commissioned Aug. 1, the Navy said Monday.
During sea trials, the submarine tests all of its components and compartments, moving at high speed both on the surface and underwater. It will now advance to its next set of tests, said Jim Hughes, vice president of submarines and fleet support at Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of HII.
In an HII news release, Cmdr. Dan Caldwell, the ship's prospective commanding officer, said the boat was "in great material condition" and called the trials "a huge success."
The Newport News shipyard builds Virginia-class submarines in partnership with General Dynamics Electric Boat of Groton, Conn. Each shipyard builds components of the submarine and takes turns delivering them to the Navy.
The John Warner will be the 12th Virginia-class boat and part of a 10-boat block buy. The Navy has lauded Newport News and Electric Boat for rolling out these submarines ahead of schedule and at lower cost. Earlier Virginia class submarines cost $2.4 billion; the John Warner will cost less than $2 billion, HII previously said.
Earlier this month, Newport News laid the keel for the submarine Indiana. It will be the 16th Virginia-class boat and the eighth that Newport News will deliver to the Navy.
While the Warner is one of many Virginia-class boats that will make up the Navy fleet, it carries a special significance for Virginians – and for the Newport News shipyard.
Its christening in September 2014 was heralded by an evening fireworks display over the shipyard. At that ceremony, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced that the Warner will sail out of Naval Station Norfolk. The world's largest naval base has a number of submarines home-ported there, but not the newer Virginia class.
Jeanne Warner, the senator's wife, is the ship's sponsor. Besides being given the honor of breaking a bottle across the ship's bow during christening, the sponsor stays in contact with the ship's crew and is involved in special events throughout the life of the ship. In recent history, all U.S. Navy sponsors have been women.