GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- The nation's newest and most-advanced nuclear-powered attack submarine, Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Missouri (SSN 780), returned to the General Dynamics Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton, Conn., July 4 following the successful completion of its first voyage in open seas.
Missouri's sea trials included a range of submarine and propulsion plant operations, submerging for the first time and high-speed runs on and below the surface to demonstrate that the ship's propulsion plant is fully mission-capable.
The sea trials were directed by Adm. Kirkland Donald, director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion. Also participating in the sea trials were Rear Adm. William Hilarides, Program Executive Officer for Submarines; Rear Adm. Michael McLaughlin, commander, Submarine Group 2; Capt. Leslie Elkin, supervisor of shipbuilding in Groton; and John P. Casey, president of Electric Boat.
"Taking a submarine out for the first time is challenging, and the crew and Electric Boat responded to that challenge very well," said McLaughlin. "I appreciate both organizations' teamwork as they prepare Missouri to join the fleet. Job well done."
"The crew and shipbuilders worked together seamlessly to take this submarine to sea and put it through its paces," said Casey. "It was a superb effort by everyone involved and reflects the commitment of the Navy/industry team to sustain the success of the Virginia-class submarine program. I deeply appreciate the contributions made by the Navy personnel, shipbuilders and suppliers who made it happen."
The successful completion of sea trials is another milestone on Missouri's journey toward officially joining the fleet, which will occur during a commissioning ceremony July 31 at 11 a.m. at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton.
Construction on Missouri began in December 2004; the submarine's keel was authenticated during a ceremony Sept. 27, 2008, at the Electric Boat facility in North Kingstown, R.I. Missouri was christened during a late morning ceremony at Electric Boat Dec. 5, 2009.
Another milestone occurred April 16 during "In Service Day," when crew members moved aboard the submarine, bringing her systems to life, beginning general day-to-day operations and preparing for sea-trials, work-ups and commissioning.
Cmdr. Timothy Rexrode is the commanding officer of Missouri, the seventh ship of the Virginia class. He leads a crew of about 134 officers and enlisted personnel. A native of Spencer, W.Va., Rexrode graduated with honors in 1990 from West Virginia University, receiving a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering. In addition, Rexrode is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College, holding a master's degree in military studies. Rexrode also received a master's degree in administration from Central Michigan University.
Becky Gates, wife of U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, serves as the submarine's sponsor. She broke the traditional champagne bottle against the boat's sail during the christening ceremony in December 2009. Her initials were welded into a plaque inside the boat during last year's keel laying ceremony.
Missouri is the fifth Navy ship to be named in honor of the people of the "Show Me State." The last Missouri, the legendary battleship, was the site where Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and many other U.S. and Allied officers accepted the unconditional surrender of the Japanese at the end of World War II Sept. 2, 1945.
Missouri is built to excel in anti-submarine warfare; anti-ship warfare; strike warfare; special operations; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions. Adept at operating in both the world's shallow littoral regions and deep waters, Missouri will directly enable five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities - sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security and deterrence.
The 7,800-ton submarine Missouri is being built under a teaming arrangement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding Newport News, Va. At 377-feet long, Missouri is slightly longer than a football field. It has a 34-foot beam, will be able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and will operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged.
Missouri is designed with a nuclear reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs and increasing underway time.
The USS Missouri Commissioning Committee, an IRS-designated 501(c)3 nonprofit charity, was created to increase awareness of the submarine's commissioning. The committee offers information about the development of the submarine, as well as history on former Navy ships named for the "Show Me State."
For more news from Commander Submarine Group 2, visit www.navy.mil/local/Subgru2/.