Saturday, July 24, 2010

Missouri Arrives At Submarine Base New London

By Lt. Patrick Evans, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs Officer

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- The nation's newest and most-advanced nuclear-powered attack submarine, Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Missouri (SSN 780), arrived at Naval Submarine Base New London July 22 in preparation for commissioning.

Missouri completed sea trials earlier and a material readiness inspection by the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) team. INSURV is a survey team established by Congress to assess Navy surface ships, aircraft carriers and submarines and ensure they are properly equipped for prompt, reliable and sustained mission readiness at sea.

"Today really marks the first day where the sub starts to become part of that fleet, which will culminate with the commissioning," said Capt. Michael Bernacchi, commodore of Submarine Squadron 4, which will be Missouri's home squadron. "The crew has done an unbelievable job over the past five months, just a tremendous amount of work getting the ship ready. They are clearly ahead of the game, and we're very excited to have them here at sub base and part of squadron four."

Cmdr. Timothy Rexrode, the commanding officer of Missouri, is looking forward to the ship's commissioning July 31.

"This really is the biggest honor I've had in my professional career," said Rexrode. "I'm proud to bear the name Missouri and to get out to the fleet and work for the Navy and the nation."

There are five Missouri natives among the submarine's crew. They are Electronics Technician 1st Class John M. Tyhurst, a Joplin native; Sonar Technician Seaman Benjamin A. Bowers, a Green Ridge native; Lt. Patrick Donovan, a Springfield native; Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Nicholas C. Koblick, a St. Louis native; and, Fire Control Technician 2nd Class Ryan J. Thruston, a Jefferson City native.

Construction on Missouri began in December 2004; the submarine's keel was authenticated during a ceremony on Sept. 27, 2008 at the Electric Boat facility in North Kingstown, R.I.; and, she was christened during a late morning ceremony at Electric Boat on Dec. 5, 2009.

Another milestone occurred on 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.

Rexrode 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 degree in Aerospace Engineering. In addition, Rexrode is a distinguished graduate of the United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College, holding as Master's in Military Studies. He also received a Master's of Arts degree in Administration from Central Michigan University.

Wife of U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Becky, christen the vessel at the ceremony last December. Her initials were welded into a plaque inside the boat during the keel laying ceremony and serves as the submarine's sponsor.

Missouri is the fifth Navy ship to be named in honor of the people of the "Show Me State." The last USS 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 on 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. At 377-feet long, Missouri is slightly longer than a football field. She 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 Commissioning Committee offers information about the development of the submarine, as well as history on former Navy ships named for the "Show Me State."