First submarine named 'Delaware' begins operations
The U.S. Navy commissioned the first submarine to be named after the First State, USS Delaware, April 4.
Six naval ships have borne the name, but never a submarine. The last to be called “Delaware” was decommissioned almost a century ago, in 1923.
The nuclear-powered general-purpose attack submarine has enough fuel to power the boat for its entire life – no refueling required. USS Delaware is the final Block III Virginia-class submarine. The class is made up of the Navy’s most modern submarines.
The 377-foot long, 34-foot wide USS Delaware can dive deeper than 800 feet and operate at 25 knots when submerged (about 29 miles per hour). It’s designed for warfare, the delivery of special operations forces and intelligence and surveillance and reconnaissance with a crew of 134 officers and sailors.
The vessel’s sponsor is Jill Biden. Chosen by the Secretary of the Navy, a sponsor is a female who is typically selected for her relationship to the namesake. The sponsor has a ceremonial role for the entire commissioned life of the ship.
“I know this submarine and her crew of courageous sailors will carry the steadfast strength of my home state wherever they go,” Biden said.
The traditional public commissioning ceremony was canceled for public health concerns. Instead, the submarine was commissioned administratively. A public commemoration is expected to be scheduled after the coronavirus pandemic is under control.
A ship named Delaware
This is the first time in nearly 100 years the name “Delaware” has been used for a U.S. Navy vessel. It is the seventh Navy ship, and first submarine, to bear the name.
Other ships named “Delaware” include:
- Delaware I was a frigate launched in July 1776 to defend the Delaware River against the British. The ship was captured by the Royal Navy in 1777 and later sold.
- Delaware II, a 1794 merchant ship and bought by the Navy in 1798. She saw a lot of action guarding American merchant ships in Philadelphia and New York, patrolling the West Indies and escorting convoys into Havana. Sold in 1801.
- Delaware III was a “ship-of-the-line.”In 1833, President Jackson boarded the Delaware III and was treated to a 24-gun salute. Delaware III and other ships were burned in the Norfolk Navy Yard in 1861 to prevent the Confederates from seizing them.
- Delaware IV, 1861, was a sidewheel steamer built in Wilmington in 1861. She was very active in the Civil War, assisting in capturing a handful of Confederate ships. Decommissioned and sold in 1865.
- Delaware V, 1866, was a screw steamer and was first called Piscataqua. Piscataqua launched in 1866 and sailed for Asia, where she assisted Americans and American interests during the Boshin War in Japan. She was renamed Delaware V in 1869 and returned to New York in 1870. She remained there until sinking in 1876. Sold for scrap.
- Delaware VI was a battleship commissioned in 1910, sponsored by Anna P. Cahall, the niece of Gov. Simeon Pennewill. Not long after, headed to Norfolk, an explosion on board killed nine men. In 1917, Delaware VI was one of several ships sent to reinforce the British Grand Fleet in World War I. In 1919, Delaware VI and other ships in her squadron evaded torpedoes from German U-boats. Decommissioned in 1923 and sold for scrap.