USS Illinois (SSN 786)
USS Illinois (SSN 786) is a Virginia-class attack submarine. Illinois is the third of eight Virginia-class Block III submarines and the seventh of the class to be delivered to the Navy by General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut.
The Virginia-class, also known as the VA-class or 774-class, is a class of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines in service with the U.S. Navy. The submarines are designed for a broad spectrum of open-ocean and littoral missions. They were conceived as a less expensive alternative to the Seawolf-class attack submarines, designed during the Cold War era, and are replacing older Los Angeles-class submarines, 20 of which have already been decommissioned.
The Navy accepted delivery of Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Illinois (SSN 786), the 13th submarine of the Virginia class 27 August 2016, early to its contract delivery date. Illinois is the ninth consecutive Virginia-class submarine to deliver early to the Navy. "Illinois' delivery continues the program's success of delivering Virginia-class submarines ahead of schedule and within budget," said Capt. Michael J. Stevens, program manager. "Our plan is to have Illinois out on operations next year, going from construction start to mission --- ready in just over six years."
The submarine is the second Navy vessel to bear the Prairie State's name. The previous Illinois (BB 7), a battleship, was built at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, laid down in 1897 and was the lead ship of a class of three 11,565-ton battleships. In December 1907, Illinois steamed out of Hampton Roads, Virginia, to begin a voyage with the Great White Fleet. In January 1941, she was renamed Prairie State (IX-15) and served through World War II as a midshipmen's training school.
Illinois is home to the Navy's only Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, where every enlisted Sailor begins Navy service. Illinois' sponsor is First Lady Michelle Obama, a Chicago native and long-time supporter of military service members and their families. In a time-honored Navy tradition, she gave the order to "man our ship and bring her to life!" Her husband, President Barack Obama, is a former Illinois state and U.S. Senator.
Following her 29 October 2016 commissioning ceremony, the Navy's newest Virginia-class, fast-attack submarine, USS Illinois (SSN-786) held a change of command ceremony onboard the submarine at Naval Submarine Base New London on 31 October 2016. Cmdr. Neil Steinhagen became Illinois' second commanding officer after relieving Cmdr. Jessie Porter, who took Illinois from a pre-commissioning unit to a United States Ship. Steinhagen, a second-generation submariner, thanked Cmdr. Porter for preparing Illinois and her crew for sea. "Your care and dedication are reflected in the crew's outstanding performance thus far, and I plan to continue that positive trend in performance," said Steinhagen.
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