USS Delaware joins Navy fleet

The Virginia-class attack submarine USS Delaware (SSN 791) transits the Atlantic Ocean after departing Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding division during sea trials in August 2019. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of HII by Ashley Cowan/Released)
The Virginia-class attack submarine USS Delaware (SSN 791) transits the Atlantic Ocean after departing Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding division during sea trials in August 2019. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of HII by Ashley Cowan/Released)

WASHINGTON – The stealth submarine USS Delaware quietly joined the U.S. Navy fleet Saturday.

The boat, SSN 791, was to be commissioned in a public ceremony Saturday in Wilmington, Delaware, but the event was canceled due to pandemic restrictions.

“Today should have been a big day in Delaware as we were planning to bring the USS Delaware-SSN 791, the most modern, fast-attack nuclear submarine in the world, to the Port of Wilmington and gather 5,000 people to witness its commissioning,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware.

“Instead, our country is fighting a different type of battle today. It’s a battle we can all help fight by staying home, staying healthy, and checking in on loved ones and neighbors.

“Ever since I started working on getting a submarine named after Delaware, I’ve said this submarine represents hope. And that’s exactly what our state, our country, and our world needs right now.”

The Navy commissioned USS Delaware administratively and transitioned the ship to normal operations.

The Navy is looking at a future opportunity to commemorate the special event with the ship’s sponsor, crew and commissioning committee.

“This Virginia-class fast-attack submarine will continue the proud naval legacy of the state of Delaware and the ships that have borne her name,” said Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly. “I am confident that the crew of this cutting edge platform will carry on this tradition, confronting the many challenges of today’s complex world with the professionalism and agility the American people depend on from the warriors of the silent service.”

Delaware’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Matthew Horton, said today marks the culmination of six years of hard work by the men and women who constructed the submarine and are preparing her to become a warship.

 “As we do our part to maintain the nation’s undersea supremacy well into the future, today marks a milestone for the sailors who serve aboard USS Delaware,” he said. “Whether they have been here for her initial manning three years ago, or have just reported, they all are strong, capable submariners ready to sail the nation’s newest warship into harm’s way.”

This is the first time in nearly 100 years the name “Delaware” has been used for a U.S. Navy vessel. It is the seventh U.S. Navy ship, and first submarine, to bear the name of the state of Delaware.

Delaware is a flexible, multi-mission platform designed to carry out the seven core competencies 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.

The submarine 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 will operate for over 30 years without ever refueling. Delaware’s keel was laid April 30, 2016, and was christened during a ceremony Oct. 20, 2018. It is the final Block III Virginia-class submarine, before the next wave of Block IV deliveries.

“I am hopeful that we’ll bring the USS Delaware back later this year to the Port of Wilmington and have a real celebration that can be attended by thousands of people from Delaware and around the world,” said Sen. Carper.

“Until then, I salute the sailors serving aboard the USS Delaware and their loved ones who support them in their mission. We are thrilled to officially welcome you all to the First State’s proud military family.”