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U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release

  No. 1050-04
IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 21, 2004

Navy to Commission Submarine Virginia

The Navy will commission the USS Virginia, lead ship of the latest class of attack submarines, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2004, during an 11 a.m. EST ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Va.

As the Navy's next-generation attack submarine, the Virginia Class is the first submarine class specifically designed to counter post-Cold War threats and provides the Navy with the capabilities it requires to meet the threats of the 21st century.

Virginia has improved stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that enable it to meet the Navy's multi-mission requirements. With a modular design, the Virginia class will be able to accommodate technology upgrades throughout the life of the class.

Sen. John Warner of Virginia will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Lynda Johnson Robb, wife of former Sen. Charles Robb of Virginia and daughter of former President Lyndon Baines Johnson, will serve as the ship's sponsor. In the time-honored tradition of commissioning U.S. naval ships, Robb will give the order to "man our ship and bring her to life!"

This is the sixth ship of the Navy to carry the name Virginia since the original Virginia was commissioned in 1777. The last Virginia was a nuclear powered guided missile cruiser, which was decommissioned in 1994.

Virginia can attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters and other sea forces.

Virginia also has superior anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare capabilities, is able to provide special forces delivery and support, and can conduct mine delivery and minefield mapping.

With enhanced communications connectivity, Virginia will also provide important battle group and joint task force support with full integration into carrier strike group operations.

Capt. David Kern, a native of Binghamton, N.Y., and a Naval Academy graduate, will become the first commanding officer of the ship, leading a crew of approximately 134 officers and enlisted sailors. Virginia will be homeported in Groton, Conn., as a unit of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

Virginia is 377 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 34 feet, a navigational draft of 32 feet, displaces approximately 7,800 tons submerged, can dive to depths greater than 800 feet, and can sustain speeds of more than 25 knots when submerged.

She is also designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship - reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time.

The superior capabilities of the Virginia class will help ensure the Navy maintains undersea dominance well into this century.

For more information regarding the commissioning ceremony, please contact the Navy news desk (703) 697-5342. For more information about Virginia class submarines, visit

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