Employees working on a stern unit of the USS Indians attack submarine in Newport News.
9 August 2016
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The 16th Virginia-class submarine Indiana (SSN 789) has reached “pressure hull complete,” according to the Newport News Shipbuilding division of Huntington Ingalls Industries.
All of the submarine’s hull sections are now joined to form a single, watertight unit.
The ship’s Sponsor Diane Donald, wife of Adm. Kirk Donald (U.S. Navy, Ret.), and Ray Shearer, chairman of Indiana’s commissioning committee, visited the shipyard to see the progress being made on the submarine and meet with its crew.
“Witnessing Indiana come to life is one of the most gratifying experiences of my life,” Mrs. Donald said. “The countless hours of hard work the shipbuilders have put into constructing and perfecting this boat is apparent, as Indiana has now taken on the shape of a submarine. I also had the pleasure of spending time with the ship’s crew. As the wife of a submariner, it’s been a real honor getting to know a new generation of sailors and witnessing their enthusiasm and dedicated service to our nation. As Indiana moves closer to joining the Navy’s fleet next year, I look forward to continuing to share this journey with her shipbuilders and crew members.”
Pressure hull completion is the last major milestone before the submarine’s christening.
Construction began in September 2012 under a teaming agreement between Newport News and General Dynamics Electric Boat.
The submarine is about 82 percent complete and is scheduled for delivery to the Navy in the fall of 2017.
Athens native serves aboard U.S. Navy Ballistic Missile Submarine
Kayla Good Navy Office of Community Outreach, Athens Daily Review, August 9
A 2005 Athens High School graduate and Athens native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of a crew working aboard one of the world’s most advanced ballistic missile submarines, the USS Henry M. Jackson.
Petty Officer 1st Class Micah Brookes is a culinary specialist serving aboard the Bangor-based boat, one of 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines.
As a Navy culinary specialist, he is responsible for leading the culinary specialists and managing the production of food service for the boat.
“This job is a challenge and it keeps you on your toes,” said Brookes. “I am always learning new things. It makes you think in different ways because there is always new problems that you have to figure out on your own.”
Measuring 560 feet long, 42 feet wide and weighing more than 16,500 tons, a nuclear-powered propulsion system helps push the ship through the water at more than 20 knots.
The Navy's ballistic missile submarines, often referred to as "boomers," serve as a strategic deterrent by providing an undetectable platform for submarine launched ballistic missiles. They are designed specifically for stealth, extended patrols and the precise delivery of missiles if directed by the President. The Ohio-class design allows the submarines to operate for 15 or more years between major overhauls. On average, the submarines spend 77 days at sea followed by 35 days in-port for maintenance.
According to Navy officials, current ballistic missile submarines, commissioned between 1987 and 1997, are reaching their end of life. Leveraging more than 50 years of ballistic missile submarine design and operational experience, the Ohio replacement submarine will be a cost-effective recapitalization of sea-based strategic deterrence. The Ohio replacement also leverages Virginia class submarine capabilities.
Lead Ohio Replacement construction must begin in 2021 in order for the first new submarine to commence its first strategic patrol in 2031, Navy officials explained. Ohio replacement ballistic missile submarines will provide the nation’s survivable nuclear deterrent through the 2080s. The plan includes 12 Ohio replacement submarines, each with 16 TRIDENT II (D5) missiles and a 42-year service life. The 12 Ohio replacement submarines provide the same at-sea presence as 14 original Ohio submarines saving $20B (CY10) over the life of the class.
"Every day I am extremely proud to lead and serve alongside the exceptionally talented men and women of the submarine force," said Capt. Mark Schmall, commodore of Submarine Squadron 17, of Bangor, Washington. "Our team is filled with dedicated, hardworking, and highly qualified professionals who hold uncommon levels of responsibility and accountability in support of our nation's strategic deterrence mission. Their work ethic, commitment, and enthusiasm are second to none!"
Brookes is part of the boat's Gold crew, one of the two rotating crews, which allow the ship to be deployed on missions more often without taxing one crew too much. A typical crew on this submarine is approximately 150 officers and enlisted sailors.
“If you ever need something, regardless of your differences, someone will be there to help you no matter what it is or the time,” said Brookes. “There is a strong sense of camaraderie aboard the sub.”
A key element of the Navy’s mission is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, according to Navy officials, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
U.S. strategic deterrence promotes global stability by preventing coercion by threat of nuclear attack, helping prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons, and assuring non-nuclear allies and partners the U.S. will respond if attacked, according to Navy officials. The ballistic missile submarine force is the survivable leg of the U.S. nuclear triad. A survivable deterrent can impose unacceptable consequences even after being attacked. Ballistic missile submarines will be responsible for ~70% of deployed nuclear warheads under the New START.
Ballistic missile submarines are an effective sea-based strategic deterrent because submarines are undetectable when submerged and provide adequate range to allow operations far from adversaries in broad ocean areas, Navy officials explained. The new submarines are designed with state-of-the-art stealth to remain undetectable into the 2080s.
According to Navy officials, because of the demanding environment aboard submarines, personnel are accepted only after rigorous testing and observation. Submariners are some of the most highly trained and skilled people in the Navy. The training is highly technical, and each crew has to be able to operate, maintain, and repair every system or piece of equipment on board. Regardless of their specialty, everyone also has to learn how everything on the ship works and how to respond in emergencies to become “qualified in submarines” and earn the right to wear the coveted gold or silver dolphins on their uniform.
Challenging submarine living conditions build strong fellowship among the elite crew, Navy officials explained. The crews are highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills.
“Serving in the Navy give me a tremendous sense of pride,” added Brookes. “Being from a small town, you get a lot of bragging rights. When you go back home, people know who you are and what you do for the country. It’s a lot of responsibility.”