Attack Submarine USS Delaware Joins Fleet

Sonar Technician (Submarine) 1st Class Ryun Lewis (center) gives a tour of the Delaware last month to U.S. Naval Sea Cadets with the sub moored pier side at Naval Station Norfolk as the Virginia-class boat prepared for its April 4 commissioning. U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cameron Stoner

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy commissioned USS Delaware, the 18th Virginia-class attack submarine, on April 4, according to a Navy release. 

Although the traditional commissioning ceremony was canceled due to restrictions on large gatherings brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Navy commissioned USS Delaware administratively and transitioned the ship to normal operations. Meanwhile, the Navy is looking at an opportunity to commemorate the special event with the ship’s sponsor, crew and commissioning committee. 

“This Virginia-class fast-attack submarine will continue the proud naval legacy of the state of Delaware and the ships that have borne her name,” acting Navy Secretary Thomas B. Modly said in the release. 

Vice Adm. Daryl Caudle, commander of Navy Submarine Forces, said he is pleased to welcome the ship to the sub fleet and contribute to Navy undersea warfighting capability. 

The Virginia-class attack submarine USS Delaware transits the Atlantic Ocean after departing Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding division during sea trials last August. U.S. Navy via Ashley Cowan of HII

“The U.S. Navy values the support of all those who contributed to today’s momentous milestone and will look for a future opportunity to commemorate this special event,” Caudle said. “The sailors of USS Delaware hail from every corner of the nation and from every walk of life. This crew, and the crews who follow, will rise to every challenge with unmatched bravery and perseverance to ensure the U.S. Submarine Force remains the best in the world.” 

The ship’s sponsor, Jill Biden, spouse of former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democratic candidate for president, offered congratulations to everyone who played a role in delivering USS Delaware to service. 

“I know this submarine and her crew of courageous sailors will carry the steadfast strength of my home state wherever they go,” she said. “The sailors who fill this ship are the very best of the Navy, and as you embark on your many journeys, please know that you and those whom you love are in my thoughts.” 

Delaware’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Matthew Horton, said the commissioning marks the culmination of six years of hard work by the men and women who constructed the submarine and are preparing it to become a warship. He thanked the crew and their families, Jill Biden, the USS Delaware Commissioning Committee and the Navy League of Hampton Roads for their work and support. 

“As we do our part to maintain the nation’s undersea supremacy well into the future, today marks a milestone for the Sailors who serve aboard USS Delaware. Whether they have been here for her initial manning three years ago, or have just reported, they all are strong, capable submariners ready to sail the nation’s newest warship into harm’s way,” Horton said.  

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 sub, to bear the name of the state. The boat is 377 feet long, has a 34-foot beam and will be able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged. It will operate for more than 30 years without ever refueling. Its keel was laid on April 30, 2016, and was christened during a ceremony on Oct. 20, 2018. It is the final Block III Virginia-class sub before Block IV deliveries begin.