The Virginia-class submarine Pre-Commissioning Unit South Dakota, pictured transiting the Thames River at Naval Submarine Base New London, will be commissioned as USS South Dakota on Saturday. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steven Hoskins/U.S. Navy
Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy plans to commission the future USS South Dakota, a fast attack submarine, on Saturday at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn.
The South Dakota, which was christened on Oct. 14, 2017, and has completed seal trials, will be the 17th Virginia-class submarine and is the third vessel to bear the state's name. The others were an armored cruiser that sailed from 1904-12 and battleship that was the most decorated in World War II with 13 battle stars until it was decommissioned in 1947.
U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., will be the principal speaker at the ceremony, which will be streamed online at the Navy's YouTube channel.
"I'm looking forward to it," Rounds told KELO-TV. "We're going to have a lot of folks from South Dakota there and show our support for the men and women participating."
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem will also lead a state delegation at the commissioning.
The submarine's sponsor is Deanie Dempsey, wife Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In the Navy tradition, she will give the order to "man our ship and bring her to life!"
"USS South Dakota enters service during a period of dynamic security challenges," Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said in a statement. "I am confident USS South Dakota and its crew will ensure our Navy and nation remain safe and strong, and proudly serve our nation's interest for decades to come."
The USS South Dakota is the seventh Virginia-class Block III submarine. The 7,800 ton vessel carries a crew of 134 and travels at 25 knots per on the surface or 35 mph when submerged.
Virginia-class submarines operate in the world's littoral and deep water. Functions include anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface ship warfare; strike warfare; special operation forces support; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions.
The ships possess stealth, endurance, mobility and firepower, the Navy said.