The US Navy’s 18th Virginia-class attack submarine entered service on Saturday, April 4, without a formal commissioning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the US defense department, the boat entered service “administratively” and transitioned to “normal operations”.
Meanwhile, the navy is looking at a future opportunity to commemorate the special event with the ship’s sponsor, crew and commissioning committee.
The submarine entered service after completing builder’s and acceptance trials in 2019. Delaware was delivered by Huntington Ingalls Industries, which started construction of the ship in 2013 and launched it in December 2018.
Delaware is the final Block III Virginia-class submarine, before the next wave of Block IV deliveries. Compared to blocks I and II of the class, block III submarines feature a redesigned bow replacing 12 individual vertical launch tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes, each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles.
The design also incorporates a water-backed large-aperture bow sonar array in place of the traditional air-backed spherical array. These, among other design changes, reduced the submarines’ acquisition cost.
The ship’s sponsor, Dr. Jill Biden, offered congratulations to everyone who played a role in delivering USS Delaware to service.
“I know this submarine and her crew of courageous sailors will carry the steadfast strength of my home state wherever they go,” she said. “The sailors who fill this ship are the very best of the Navy, and as you embark on your many journeys, please know that you and those whom you love are in my thoughts.”
This is the first time in nearly 100 years the name “Delaware” has been used for a US Navy vessel. It is the seventh US Navy ship, and first submarine, to bear the name of the state of Delaware.