USS South Dakota (SSN 790) is the Navy’s newest nuclear submarine, commissioned on Feb. 2, 2019. It is the 17th Virginia-class attack submarine to join the fleet. It was a true honor to be a part of the commissioning event.
USS South Dakota will play an important role in the mission of our sailors, and it will also serve as a new symbolic link between our state and the Navy. According to the U.S. Navy, it has been designed to fulfill 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.
This new submarine includes state-of-the-art technology designed to increase stealth, as well as a revised bow and sonar panels that will allow it to better detect and track other submarines in its area. USS South Dakota is a 7,800 ton vessel, is 377 feet long and will be manned by 132 crew members. It can stay at sea for up to three months at a time. Because it is a nuclear attack submarine, it will be armed with four torpedo tubes and can hold 12 Tomahawk cruise missiles that are capable of hitting targets more than 1,000 miles away.
USS South Dakota is the third commissioned Navy vessel to bear the name of our state. The first was an armored cruiser that was used between 1904 and 1912. The second USS South Dakota (BB-57) was a battleship commissioned in 1942. During World War II, it was vital in blocking Japanese forces from entering Guadalcanal. It was also involved in the Battle of Savo Island, Battle of Philippine Sea, Okinawa and Iwo Jima, earning a total of 13 battle stars. USS South Dakota was present in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945, for Japan’s formal surrender. When newspapers or radio stations reported on USS South Dakota during the war, they referred to it as “Battleship X” or “Old Nameless” because the Navy wanted to hide information about the battleship from our enemies.
Several World War II veterans who served aboard BB-57 attended the commissioning ceremony of the newest USS South Dakota. It was very special to have them there to welcome the new submarine to the Navy. We’re thankful to them for their service to our country. We are also thankful to the sailors who will serve aboard the new USS South Dakota.
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, it was truly a privilege to witness the commissioning of this modern attack submarine. We are excited to welcome USS South Dakota to the Navy’s fleet, where it will play an important role in our national security for decades to come. When BB-57 was launched in 1941, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox said, “I say to the good ship South Dakota, God go with you, because after all, your mission, the mission for which we built you, is not war, but the prevention of war as God wills.” USS South Dakota SSN 790 and its crew will play a significant role in our national security efforts. It will also serve as a tribute to South Dakotans’ long history of service in our armed forces.