'America's first millennial submarine' is also its deadliest-ever hunter-killer - step inside the USS South Dakota
US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jared Bunn
- The US Navy commissioned the USS South Dakota on Saturday and, in doing so, ushered in a new era of millennial undersea war fighters and the most technologically advanced submarine hunter-killer on earth.
- The South Dakota can be thought of as "America's first millennial submarine," because it was built by mostly millennials and will be manned by millennials too.
- It's also the deadliest submarine for undersea combat the US has ever put to sea.
The US Navy commissioned the USS South Dakota on Saturday and, in doing so, ushered in a new era of millennial undersea warfighters and the most technologically advanced submarine hunter-killer on Earth."I think we can honestly call South Dakota 'America's first millennial submarine' from construction to operation," Joe Courtney, a congressman from Connecticut, said at the South Dakota's commissioning.Advertisement
While millennials across the board make up the majority of the US's combat servicemembers in any service, the South Dakota was built by shipbuilder Electric Boat, whose workforce is more than half millennial, The Day reports.
"The rise of the millennial generation emerging to lead Electric Boat's important work for the country, I believe, is a powerful rebuttal of cynics and naysayers that say that American manufacturing and technological excellence are a thing of the past," Courtney said.In the slides below, meet the young sailors and new submarine that makes the South Dakota the most modern and fearsome submarine in the world today.
One weapon makes the South Dakota a force to be reckoned with up to 1,500 miles inland: the Tomahawk. The South Dakota can hold dozens of these land-attack missiles.Advertisement
In the torpedo room, sailors sleep and work around the clock in case they get orders to track and kill enemy subs.
Additionally, submarines make ideal vessels for deploying US Navy SEALs, who are trained in underwater demolition and can bring aboard their own mini subs for covert operations.Advertisement
Finally, by laying down mines, the South Dakota can cripple enemy submarine and ship movement, a key element of naval war.
Unlike boomer crews, the South Dakota may be called up as the first line of defense in a fight with China or Russia. Increasingly the US expects some confrontation with one of these near-peer powers.Advertisement
Virginia-class submarines like the South Dakota are nuclear-powered, so they require the crew to master nuclear propulsion while underway, even in combat.
Non-nuclear submarines, some of which China operates, have the advantage of being able to shut off their motors and run on battery power. US submarines are all nuclear, so they have to keep the reactor core on around the clock. The South Dakota mitigates this by adding extra insulation to the engine room.Advertisement
"We are in a Great Power Competition with a resurgent Russia and a rising China. Our National Defense Strategy’s first line of effort is to ‘Build a more lethal’ force because as it says, ‘the surest way to prevent war is to be prepared to win one,'" Rear Adm. Leonard C. Dollaga, Commander, Undersea Warfighting Development Center said of the South Dakota.
The South Dakota isn't the first of its kind, but the first to have new technologies like large vertical sonar arrays which the US says will give it an edge on Russian and Chinese ships.Advertisement
Submarine combat is a very dangerous and tricky game. Any sonar or radar ping can reveal a sub's location, so the ships need to sit and listen quietly to safely line up a kill.
But submarines are only as good as their crews. The South Dakota will live or die based on its crew's ability to stick together and problem solve.Advertisement
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