The Navy’s newest attack submarine North Carolina will be commissioned Saturday, May 3, during a 10 a.m. EDT ceremony at Port of Wilmington in Wilmington, N.C.
Designated SSN 777, the fourth submarine of the Virginia-class will bear the name North Carolina to honor the Tar Heel State. The submarine will be the fourth ship of the U.S. Navy to bear the name North Carolina. The first was a 74-gun ship-of-the-line that served from 1820 to 1836. The second North Carolina was a Tennessee-class armored cruiser that was built at the Newport News shipyard and served from 1908 to 1921. The third North Carolina was the first of the Navy's modern battleships, serving from 1940 to 1947, earning 12 battle stars for service during World War II. The battleship now serves in Wilmington, N.C., as a memorial for all North Carolinians who served in World War II.
Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Linda Bowman, wife of retired Adm. Frank "Skip" Bowman, former director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion, will serve as sponsor of North Carolina. The ceremony will be highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when Bowman gives the first order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”
The Virginia-class is designed and built to fulfill all current warfighting requirements and provides the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation's undersea supremacy well into the 21st century. Equally adept at operating in the world’s shallow littoral regions and deep waters, North Carolina and her sister ships will significantly contribute to the mission areas of anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; special operations forces; strike; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; battle group support; and mine warfare.
Capt. Mark E. Davis, a native of upstate New York, will become the ship’s first commanding officer and will lead a crew of approximately 134 officers and enlisted personnel. North Carolina will be homeported in Groton, Conn., as a member of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
The 7,800-ton North Carolina was built under a teaming arrangement between Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Electric Boat. North Carolina is 337 feet in length, has a beam of 34 feet, and can operate at depths greater than 800 feet and at speeds exceeding 25 knots submerged. North Carolina is also designed with a reactor plant which will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship-reducing lifecycle costs while increasing operational availability.