The Navy commissioned its newest attack submarine California, Saturday, during an 11 a.m. EDT ceremony at Norfolk Naval Station in Norfolk, Va.
Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, House Armed Services Committee chairman, delivered the ceremony’s principal address. Donna Willard, wife of Adm. Robert Willard, commander, U.S. Pacific Command, served as ship’s sponsor. In the time-honored Navy tradition she gave the first order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”
California is named in recognition of the people of the “Golden State. The selection of California honors the thousands of men and women from the state who serve in today’s armed forces, and the millions of Californian veterans and their families. As home to major Naval and Marine Corps installations, the selection of California also reflects the tremendous support provided to the Navy and Marine Corps by countless communities across the Golden State. This is the seventh ship to bear the name California.
Designated SSN 781, the eighth ship of the Virginia class, California is built to excel in anti-submarine warfare; anti-ship warfare; strike warfare; special operations; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions. Adept at operating in both the world’s shallow littoral regions and deep waters, California will directly enable five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities — sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence.
Cmdr. Dana A. Nelson, a native of Clinton, Conn., and a 1992 graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy, will be the ship’s commanding officer, leading a crew of approximately 134 officers and enlisted personnel.
The 7,800-ton California is built under a teaming arrangement between Huntington Ingalls Industry-Newport News Shipbuilding and General Dynamics-Electric Boat. She is 377-feet long, has a 34-foot beam, and will be able to dive to depths of greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged. California is designed with a nuclear reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship — reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time.