NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS La Jolla (SSN 701) arrived at its new homeport in Norfolk, Virginia, Nov. 10. Under the command of Cmdr. Kevin Roach, the submarine was previously assigned to Commander, Submarine Squadron One, home ported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
The submarine arrives in Norfolk to begin its conversion to a Moored Training Ship (MTS). La Jolla will remain at Norfolk Naval Station until it is transported in February to Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va., for the 32-month MTS conversion. During the conversion, the La Jolla will have its missile compartments removed, but will have a fully operational reactor power plant.
During the conversion the La Jolla will have its missile compartments removed, but will have fully operational reactor power plants.
"La Jolla is being converted to a state-of-the-art moored training ship," said Roach, a 1995 graduate of the University of Texas with a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering. "La Jolla was chosen as the next MTS based on her service life and amount of nuclear fuel remaining. If not converted, the submarine would have been inactivated and decommissioned in 2015."
Once converted La Jolla will be designated Moored Training Ship (MTS 701), and will assigned to the Nuclear Power Training Unit (NPTU) at Naval Support Activity in Charleston, South Carolina. At NPTU, the ship will provide a platform for Naval officers and enlisted personnel to train in the operation, maintenance and supervision of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Plants.
The ship will be the first Los Angeles-class submarine to undergo conversion to a NPTU. The current NPTUs in service at Charleston are Daniel Webster (MTS 626), a converted Lafayatte-class ballistic-missile submarine, and Sam Rayburn (MTS 635), a converted James Madison-class ballistic-missile submarine. Sam Rayburn was reclassified as MTS 635 in July 1989 and will remain in service until May 2019. Daniel Webster was designated MTS 626 in August 1990 and will remain in service until November 2022.
La Jolla will remain in service for the majority of the conversion until its reclassification to MTS around Aug 2017 a few months before the boat is scheduled to complete conversion. La Jolla is expected to provide 20 years of service as a MTS.
"The conversion will require a one-of-a-kind hull separation of the forward compartment," said Roach. "Then a newly-fabricated hull section will be welded in place, and the new space will contain training spaces, office spaces, and an emergency safeguard system. The ship's new mission will provide an operational training unit for future nuclear operators during their initial qualification process. La Jolla will be replacing the MTS 626 Daniel Webster in Charleston in 2018."
Master Chief Electronics Technician (Submarines) Edward Brennan said the crew has mixed emotions on the conversion.
"We are very proud that our great ship will continue her service in the Navy for decades to come," said Brennan, a native of Prince George, Virginia. "We believe La Jolla still has some operations left in her so it is bitter-sweet in bringing her to Norfolk for conversion."
He also stated the ship will remain almost fully manned through the conversion process.
"Non-nuclear personnel will remain on board until the conversion process is complete. We will continue through the conversion to receive additional nuclear-trained personnel until we are fully manned to be a MTS in 2017. During the process, our Sailors will maintain or complete their submarine qualifications by riding operational boats in the Atlantic and Pacific. Many of our nuclear-trained Sailors want to remain on the ship during its move to Charleston, and become the first group of instructors on MTS 701 to train students."
Commissioned Oct. 24, 1981 at Naval Submarine Base, New London, connecticut, La Jolla was the first warship named after the township of La Jolla, California, and the 14th ship of the nuclear-powered Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarines. It is 362-feet long, and displaces 6,900 tons. The submarine can be armed with sophisticated Mark-48 Advanced Capability (ADCAP) anti-submarine torpedoes and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles.
Along her illustrious 33-year career serving the U.S. Submarine Force, La Jolla had many 'firsts' under her belt, including the first of the Los Angeles-class of submarines to be home ported in San Diego; the first to participate in the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and Korean Maritime Self Defense Force's first multi-national exercise, Pacific Reach 2004; the first to deploy overseas with the advanced AN/BQQ-5D sonar system on board; and the first to be fitted with the Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV).
For more news from Commander, Submarine Force, Atlantic, visit www.navy.mil/local/sublant/.