U.S. Navy Commissions 3rd of 8 Block III Virginia-class Submarine USS Illinois (SSN 786)
The U.S. Navy with assistance from the First Lady Michelle Obama commissioned and brought to life the newest Virginia class submarine, USS Illinois (SSN 786), during a ceremony attended by more than 2,500 at Naval Submarine Base, New London on Oct. 29, 2016. Illinois, named in honor of the 21st state, is the 13th Virginia-class, fast-attack submarine to join the Navy's operational fleet. The first lady, who is the ships sponsor, expressed how proud she was of the crew and their families.
GROTON, Conn. (Aug. 1, 2016) The future Virginia-class attack submarine USS Illinois (SSN 786) conducts sea trials. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of General Dynamics Electric Boat/Released)
Illinois is the third 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.
USS Illinois Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Jessie Porter, highlighted the Illinois' capability to dominate the undersea domain and enable military success in any engagement.
Illinois 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.
Construction on Illinois began March 2011; the submarine's keel was authenticated during a ceremony on June 2, 2014; and the submarine was christened during a ceremony Oct. 10, 2015.