The 377-foot (115-meter) USS South Dakota was commissioned Saturday morning at the U.S. Naval Submarine Base in Groton, Connecticut. The vessel marks the 17th Virginia-class attack submarine to join the fleet and the first submarine to be commissioned with the name South Dakota.
It will also mark the first commissioning for Connecticut's new Democratic governor, Ned Lamont, who is scheduled to attend the ceremony.
In his remarks, eastern Connecticut's veteran congressman Joe Courtney (D-2nd) said "Though it may be their first commissioning, it’s not Ned’s first visit to the Groton shipyard. His frequent trips here in the last five months shows the base and the yard rank high on his priority list for his administration."
Courtney also noted the changing workforce at Electric Boat and in the navy, saying that "the proportion of EB employees in Connecticut and Rhode Island between the ages of 22 and 37 has skyrocketed from 30% to more than 50%." He added "This generational shift is happening in our military as well. Commander Litty’s crew is populated with a new generation of smart, highly trained sailors and officers operating a submarine that is breaking new ground in its capabilities. You can honestly call South Dakota ‘America’s First Millennial Submarine’ from construction to operation."
The last ship named after the state of South Dakota was the BB-57, a World War II-era battleship that won numerous honors in combat before it was decommissioned in 1947. Parts of the battleship are on display at the U.S.S. South Dakota Battleship Memorial in Sioux Falls.