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USS New Hampshire Serves as Host Platform for Dry Deck Shelter Development / Operational Testing

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS090918-20
Release Date: 9/18/2009 3:23:00 PM

From Team Submarine Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- USS New Hampshire (SSN 778) became the second Virginia-class submarine to have a Dry Deck Shelter (DDS) landed to its hull Sept. 4.

The DDS was successfully mated to New Hampshire in preparation for continued Virginia-class testing that will take place this fall.

"Last summer, USS North Carolina (SSN 777) became the first Virginia to conduct operations with a Dry-Deck Shelter," said Capt. Michael Jabaley, the Virginia Class Program Manager. "However, three hurricanes passed through during our testing so we had to defer some testing until this year."

New Hampshire is scheduled to begin its testing phase in November and conclude in December. The nearly two-month test period will validate the Virginia Class's ability to host and operate a DDS in accordance with the program's objectives. Specifically, Navy SEALs will operate a SEAL Delivery Vehicle out of the DDS and also conduct mass swimmer lockouts.

Landing the DDS more than two months before the submarine's getting underway allows for the proper inspection and certification of both the shelter and the ship.

"Before we allow a DDS to depart aboard any submarine we ensure that it has been thoroughly checked," said Cmdr. John Szatkowski, Director, Submarine Safety and Quality Assurance Office. "We conduct dock-side unmanned testing, dock-side manned testing, and then at-sea unmanned and manned testing to ensure that all the systems work properly before we allow the ship to get underway for its deployment or, in this case, underway testing," added Szatkowski.

Aside from being only the second Virginia Class submarine to conduct DDS testing, New Hampshire also holds the distinction of being the third ship of the class to conduct a deployment prior to its Post Shakedown Availability (PSA).

"PSAs are a time when we work out the last of the kinks in these amazingly complex ships," said Rear Adm. William Hilarides, Program Executive Office for Submarines. "That we could deploy New Hampshire, bring her back to port, load a DDS, and then send the boat back out for several weeks of testing before the PSA proves that the Virginia Class is a well designed and built submarine."

New Hampshire will begin its PSA in February 2010.

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