The U.S. Navy welcomed a powerful new addition to their Virginia-class of nuclear-powered submarines earlier this summer. Huntington Ingalls Industries successfully launched the USS Indiana (SSN 789) into the James River from the shipyard where it was built, according to Naval Technology.
This 7,800-ton submarine is the eighth ship of the Virginia-class, which is being built to replace the Navy’s Los Angeles-class submarines. This ship is a fast-attack submarine and is built with open-ocean and littoral mission capacity. It is also optimized to support missions in several areas of the world. According to WANE, the submarine can carry missiles, deploy special forces, and gather intelligence. These highly complex vessels take about $2.68 billion to build and support thousands of American jobs. Now, this vessel will protect American interests around the globe.
Steel grades vary by industry, but this submarine is made of some of the highest grades of steel in the world. Stainless steel 316, for example, is generally used for lab equipment, jet engine parts, boat fittings, food and pharmaceutical processing, and chemical containers. This is typical of many stainless steel grades. But this submarine needs to be able to cruise under the ocean at 25 km per hour (28 mph) for months in a row, requiring highly durable, high yield steel composition.
Previous Virginia-class ships were constructed with the highest caliber cold-rolled, HY-120 steel. The Indiana is as heavy as 4,457 cars, is longer than a football field, and will never require refueling. There’s a reason these submarines have been called “steel sharks”.
In April, Diane Donald, the wife of Admiral Kirkland Donald (U.S. Navy, Ret.), former director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion, joined Vice President Mike Pence to officially christen the Indiana.
“It’s the honor of a lifetime to be here today,” said Donald. “While the size of the submarine alone is stunning, the complexity inside sets it apart from any other machine ever built. These ships are second to none, made in America by truly remarkable Americans.”
As for the manufacturing of the Indiana, it was a collaborative effort of state businesses. According to WANE, Jesse Zimbauer, commanding officer of the USS Indiana, and Ray Shearer, chairman of the USS Indiana Commissioning Committee, have toured Indiana to raise awareness and express gratitude for the ship.
“There are more than one hundred Indiana businesses manufacturing components for the submarines in the Navy fleet,” Shearer said in a statement to WANE. “As a proud Hoosier and service veteran, it is exciting to know companies throughout the state, from small to large, have contributed to the legacy of USS Indiana. Hoosier hands have indeed built the Hoosier boat.”
Now that the submarine has been launched, it is going through a several month-long trial period. This is to ensure that its steel composition, general parts, and operations are up to standard. According to WANE, the ship will be commissioned by the fleet once it completes these trials. The commissioning ceremony will happen at the beginning of 2018.