The Navy commissioned and brought to life the newest Virginia class submarine, USS Washington (SSN 787), during a ceremony on board Naval Station Norfolk, Oct. 7.

Washington is the fourth of eight Block III Virginia-class submarines to be built. The Block III submarines are built with new Virginia Payload Tubes designed to lower costs and increase missile-firing payload possibilities. The first 10 Block I and Block II Virginia class submarines have 12 individual 21-inch diameter vertical launch tubes able to fire Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMS). The Block III submarines are built with two-larger 87-inch diameter tubes able to house six TLAMS each.

Washington is the fourth U.S. Navy ship, and first submarine, to be named honoring the State of Washington. The previous three ships were an armored cruiser, (ACR 11), which served from 1905 to 1916, the battleship (BB 47) a Colorado-class battleship launched in 1921 and sunk as a gunnery target in 1924 after her construction was halted, and the battleship (BB 56) credited with sinking more enemy tonnage than any other U.S. Navy battleship during World War II, serving from 1941 to 1947.

Washington 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. Their inherent stealth, endurance, mobility, and firepower directly enable them to support five of the six maritime strategy core capabilities: sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security and deterrence.

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.

Construction on Washington began September 2011; the submarine's keel was authenticated during a ceremony on Nov. 22, 2014; and the submarine was christened during a ceremony March 5, 2016.

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