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USS South Dakota: The Navy’s newest submarine

New London

Usually, the crew of a newly commissioned submarine run onto the boat. But, frigid temperatures are keeping the crew off the USS South Dakota under a heated tent for Saturday’s ceremony.

That’s when the USS South Dakota becomes the Navy’s newest submarine.

It is the 17th Virginia Class fast attack submarine and it can carry some serious firepower.

News 8 got a look at the torpedo room and the rest of the nuclear powered sub which will have a crew of 19 officers and 123 enlisted sailors.

“This is where we feed the crew,” said Cdr Craig Litty. “Commonly known as crew’s mess.”

There are a lot of personal touches around the mess hall. Murals of Mount Rushmore and other scenes from the coyote state.

“It really brings a touch of home makes it feel like South Dakota,” said Culinary Specialist Chris Peddycoart. He is one of four South Dakotans on board.

“This is the heartbeat of the ship. This is where we come to unwind and also get a good meal,” explained Peddycoart. “If the guys want a snack, I usually have food out all the time for them.”

Related Content: Connecticut commissioning ceremony set for Navy submarine

Personal touches and high tech advances.

“This control room has been reconfigured to be much more flexible and much more open,” said Cdr. Litty.    

One thing you won’t see in the control room are the periscopes you used to see in the movies. That’s because they don’t have the ones which come through the pressurized hull anymore.

Instead, they have a digital camera up top and a controller like you might have at home.

“We can use a standard Xbox controller to control all the functionality of our periscopes,” explained Cdr. Litty.

Like all submarines storage and quarters are tight. But, so is the crew.

“Amazing. I’m super proud to be part of this group,” said Senior Chief Matt Blankenship. He is originally from New Canaan, Conn. 

“This kind of experience is not one that goes lightly,” said Blankenship. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience for most sailors.”

Once commissioned, the South Dakota will continue sea trials to be ready for its first deployment in 2021.

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