The test program included first underwater submergence, acoustics trials, engineering inspections and at-sea training for the crew.
"This is a great day both for the Navy and for the nation," said ADM Bruce DeMars, director, Navy Nuclear Propulsion, when the submarine returned. "The ship behind us is the most complicated thing built in this country, and the fact that we could go out and have the trials we did, in the time that we did, and return with virtually nothing out of commission is a tribute to the people you see standing around here -- the shipyard workers, the engineers, the crew, the people behind me. Today the country has the fastest,
the quietest, the most heavily armed submarine in the world."
The Seawolf submarine provides the Navy with advanced weaponry and new tactical capability and communications. Compared to previous SSNs, it carries an increased weapons load of Mark 48 anti-submarine torpedoes, Harpoon missiles and Tomahawk cruise missiles.
The nuclear-powered attack submarine's flexibility provides the Navy with an undersea weapons platform that can operate in any scenario. DeMars described the ship's speed as its greatest advantage over other ships. He said, "It obviously can get places quicker and more quietly than any other submarine and any other ship and so that in and of itself is a great force multiplier. It can be in any number of places quickly and therefore is much, more valuable that a slower ship. And then the smaller Navy that we face in the future; the mobility that this ship has and the immense capability will be of extreme importance to the country."
Seawolf's robust design supports missions including surveillance, intelligence collection, special warfare, covert cruise missile strike, mine warfare, anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare.
Electric Boat Corp. is currently building two other Seawolf-class submarines.
Reviewed: 16 September 2009