Virginia-class fast attack submarine USS Delaware (SSN 791) has been commissioned at a ceremony in Wilmington, Delaware.

The ceremony was attended by US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden, who is the ship sponsor.
Because of Covid-19 restrictions, traditional commissioning ceremony could not be held on 4 April 2020.

However, USS Delaware was commissioned administratively on 4 April 2020. It had also become the first US Navy ship to be commissioned while being submerged.

President Biden said: “This latest navy ship to carry the Delaware name is part of a long tradition of serving our nation proudly and strengthening our nation’s security. Not just us, but our allies and partners around the world as well.”

Besides being the 18th Virginia-class submarine built, USS Delaware is also the eighth and final Block III Virginia-class submarine.

The Block III submarines are known for replacing 12 vertical launch tubes for Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM) with two larger, 87-inch diameter launch tubes.

In addition to carrying larger payloads, the Block III submarines also feature other advancements.

Homeported at Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut, USS Delaware will operate under Submarine Squadron 12 and its commodore, captain Matthew Boland.

This is not only the seventh US Navy ship to be named after Delaware, but also first in over a century.

The first vessel to be named after the first US state was a 24-gun frigate launched in 1776.

The last vessel to carry the name of Delaware was a battleship commissioned in 1910 and was in service in the Atlantic during World War I.

SSN 791 commanding officer commander Matthew Horton said: “Limitless in range; unmatched in power, precision, and stealth. Her engineering renders her nearly undetectable, her sensors reveal the presence of any foes. Capable of dominating across the spectrum of warfare, she excels in all her assigned missions. From the depths of the ocean, ensuring sea control, to delivering precision strikes and supporting naval special warfare.”

In September 2019, the submarine completed the initial sea trials to validate the performance of its components and systems.

Following the completion of sea trials, HII delivered the submarine Delaware in October 2019.

As multi-mission platforms, fast-attack submarines allow five of the six navy maritime strategy core capabilities, power projection, sea control, maritime security and deterrence, and forward presence.

They are intended for anti-submarine warfare, strike warfare, anti-ship warfare,  special operations, irregular warfare, mine warfare, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.