WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Navy on Saturday commissioned its 17th Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine, the U.S.S. South Dakota, in the eastern state of Connecticut.
"U.S.S. South Dakota enters service during a period of dynamic security challenges," Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer said in a statement prior to the commissioning ceremony.
The 17th Virginia-class block III submarine, costing 2.7 billion U.S. dollars, is hull-numbered SSN 790. It stretches 115 meters in length, displaces 7,800 tons, dives 244 meters under water and can reach the speed of 25 knots.
The submarine can stay three months at sea at a time, and its nuclear fuel supply is able to continuously power the ship for its projected lifespan of up to 33 years.
The submarine, manned by 15 officers and 117 enlisted servicemen, is equipped with four torpedo tubes as well as two Virginia payload tubes, each capable of holding six vertical launch Tomahawk missiles that can hit on-shore targets up to 2,000 km away.
With sonar detectors in the bow, fin, and flank, as well as one towed behind the ship, the submarine is able to detect large ships up to 4,800 km away.
The Virginia-class navy submarine, a cheaper version of the previous Seawolf-class submarine, was designed to replace the Los Angeles class. According to the U.S. navy, Virginia-class subs "are built to operate in the world's littoral and deep waters while conducting anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface ship warfare; strike warfare; special operation forces support; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions."
According to a report to the U.S. Congress last year, the U.S. Navy currently plans to build altogether 66 Virginia-class submarine. There are currently three Seawolf-class subs and 32 Los Angeles-class submarine in service.
The U.S.S. South Dakota is the third U.S. warship to carry the name of the Midwestern state, the first being a cruiser during World War I and the second a battleship during World War II.