Welcome to Navy Live blog coverage of the commissioning of USS Washington (SSN 787).

The Navy’s newest fast attack submarine will be commissioned Oct. 7 during an 11 a.m. (EDT) at Naval Station Norfolk, which you can watch here.

About the Boat   Biographies   Stories   Photos   Video

Additional photos, videos and other resources will be posted to this blog as they become available.

About the Boat

When and where is the commissioning ceremony?
The commissioning ceremony will be held at Pier 12 on Oct. 7, 2017 starting at 11 a.m. (EDT).

Can I attend the commissioning ceremony?
For ticket inquiries, please visit the Navy League’s commissioning homepage.

How many other SSNs does the U.S. Navy currently have?
There are currently three classes of SSNs (attack submarines) in service (49 in total).

What makes the Virginia class different?
The Virginia-class submarines are better capable to operate in littoral waters. They additionally can be configured to support special operations forces (SOF) by converting a torpedo room into an area for SOF personnel and their equipment. Additionally, diving operations can occur with greater ease due to a large lock-in/lock-out chamber for divers. Block III submarines feature a redesigned bow, which replaces 12 individual launch tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles, among other design changes that reduced the submarines’ acquisition cost while maintaining their outstanding warfighting capabilities.

How much did this submarine cost to build?
$2.6 billion.

Where was the Washington constructed?
Virginia-class submarines are built under a construction contract between General Dynamics’ Electric Boat Division and Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding. GD Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding are the only two U.S. shipyards capable of building nuclear-powered vessels.

When was construction started?
Sept. 2, 2011 in Newport News, Virginia

When was the keel laid?
Nov. 11, 2014 in Newport News, Virginia

When was the ship christened?
March 15, 2016 in Newport News, Virginia

When did the PCU Washington pass the required inspections by the Navy?
Washington successfully completed the independent Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) trials, which evaluates the submarine’s seaworthiness and operational capabilities. During INSURV trials, the crew took the submarine to test depth and tested the submarine’s propulsion plant and material readiness. The sub was delivered to the Navy on May 25, 2017.

Who is the USS Washington’s sponsor?
The sponsor of Virginia-class submarine Washington (SSN 787) is Elisabeth Mabus, daughter of former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.

Elisabeth Mabus was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. After earning her Bachelor’s degree in History and Literature from Harvard, Elisabeth joined President Obama’s reelection campaign as a Field Organizer in Colorado. After the campaign, Elisabeth moved to Washington, DC. There, she worked for the Department of Health and Human Services as a Special Assistant for the Office for Early Childhood Development.

In 2014, Elisabeth returned to Colorado to manage a Secretary of State campaign, and subsequently work on successful ballot initiatives, and consult for campaigns. Since then, Elisabeth has enrolled as a Juris Doctor candidate at Harvard Law School.

When was the ship named?
Former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced Feb. 7, 2013 that SSN 787, the 14th Virginia-class submarine, would be named after the state of Washington.

How long is the PCU Washington?
377 ft.

How wide is the PCU Washington?
34 ft.

What is the displacement of the PCU Washington?
Approximately 7,800 tons submerged.

How fast can the PCU Washington go?
25+ knots submerged.

What history does the USS Washington name have in the Navy?
There have been 3 ships in the U.S. Navy named after the state of Washington.

The first USS Washington (ACR 11), a Tennessee-class armored cruiser, named for the state, later renamed Seattle and reclassified (CA-11) then (IX-39), was laid down Sept. 23, 1903 at Camden, New Jersey, by the New York Shipbuilding Company. USS Washington launched March 18, 1905. It was sponsored by Helen Stewart Wilson, daughter of U.S. Senator John L. Wilson of Washington. The ship was commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard Aug. 7, 1906 with Capt. James D. Adams in command. On April 11, 1907 USS Washington arrived at Hampton Roads she remained there into May participating in festivities of the Jamestown Exposition, which commemorated the founding of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. USS Washington departed Hampton Roads on June 11 and proceeded to Newport where it joined USS Tennessee before heading across the Atlantic bound for European waters. Following a period of yard work at the New York Navy Yard, USS Washington set sail for the Pacific Station, again in company with Tennessee. USS Washington operated off the west coast into 1909 before it made preparations to sail in company with the Armored Cruiser Squadron to “show the flag” in the Far East. She accordingly got underway from San Francisco, Sept. 5, 1909. The ship was renamed Seattle on Nov. 9, 1916, in order that her original name might be used for the new Colorado-class battleship USS Washington (BB 47).

USS Washington (BB 47), a Colorado-class battleship, was the second ship of the U.S. Navy named in honor of the 42nd state. Though, this ship never completed construction. Her keel was laid June 30, 1919 at Camden, New Jersey, by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation. It was launched Sept. 1, 1921. BB-47 was sponsored by Jean Summers, the daughter of Congressman John W. Summers of Washington. On Feb. 8, 1922, two days after the signing of the Washington Naval Treaty for the Limitation of Naval Armaments, all construction work ceased on the 75.9% completed super-dreadnought. Ultimately, its incomplete hulk was towed out to sea, where it was sunk as a gunnery target Nov. 26, 1924 by the battleships New York and Texas.

USS Washington (BB 56) was laid down June 14, 1938 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. It launched June 1, 1940, was sponsored by Virginia Marshall, of Spokane, Washington, a direct descendant of former Chief Justice Marshall. It was commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on May 15, 1941. Capt. Howard H. J. Benson was in command. On Nov. 15, 1942, Washington engaged the Japanese Battleship Kirishima, in the first head-to-head confrontation of battleships in the Pacific theater. USS Washington was defending the invasion of Guadalcanal in what became the Battle of Savo Island. Washington sent 75 rounds of 16-inch and 107 rounds of 5-inch at ranges from 8,400 to 12,650 yards, scoring at least nine hits with its main battery and about 40 with her 5-inchers, silencing the enemy battleship in short order. USS Washington went on to fight in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Then, Washignton’s heavy guns supported the taking of Peleliu and Angaur in the Palaus. Washington, as a vital unit of the fast carrier striking forces, supported raids on Okinawa, in the Ryukyus; Formosa; Luzon; Camranh Bay, French Indochina; Saigon, French Indochina; Hong Kong; Canton; Hainan Island; NanseiShoto. Washington’s heavy rifles hurled 16-inch shells shoreward in support of the landings on Iwo Jima. Washington lent it support to the shelling of Japanese positions on the island of Okinawa.

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Biographies

Adm. John Richardson
Chief of Naval Operations

Adm. John Richardson
Chief of Naval Operations

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John RichardsonAdmiral John Richardson graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science in Physics. He holds master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and National Security Strategy from the National War College.

At sea, Richardson served on USS Parche (SSN 683), USS George C. Marshall (SSBN 654) and USS Salt Lake City (SSN 716). He commanded USS Honolulu (SSN 718) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Richardson also served as commodore of Submarine Development Squadron (DEVRON) 12; commander, Submarine Group 8; commander, Submarine Allied Naval Forces South; deputy commander, U.S. 6th Fleet; chief of staff, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa; commander, Naval Submarine Forces, and director of Naval Reactors.

His staff assignments include duty in the attack submarine division on the Chief of Naval Operations staff; naval aide to the President; prospective commanding officer instructor for Commander, Submarine Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet; assistant deputy director for Regional Operations on the Joint Staff; and director of Strategy and Policy at U.S. Joint Forces Command.

Richardson served on teams that have been awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the Navy Unit Commendation, and the Navy “E” Ribbon. He was awarded the Vice Admiral Stockdale Award for his time in command of USS Honolulu.

Richardson began serving as the 31st Chief of Naval Operations September 18, 2015.

Vice Adm. Joe Tofalo
Commander, Submarine Forces
Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic
Commander, Allied Submarine Command

Vice Adm. Joe Tofalo
Commander, Submarine Forces
Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic
Commander, Allied Submarine Command

Vice Adm. Joe TofaloVice Adm. Joe Tofalo grew up in upstate New York and graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. He also holds a Master of Science in Engineering Management from Catholic University of America. His father was a 35-year career naval officer and his mother a Navy Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVE), one of the first enlisted women in the Navy.

A career submarine officer, his at-sea assignments include: USS Flasher, USS Michigan and USS Montpelier. His at-sea command assignments were as commanding officer, USS Maine and commander, Submarine Squadron (COMSUBRON) 3.

Staff assignments include: three assignments on Commander, Submarine Forces staff; two assignments on Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces staff; four assignments on the chief of naval operations staff; U.S. Joint Forces Command; and the Joint Staff.

Selected for rear admiral in December 2009, his first flag assignment was as Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Global Force Management and Joint Operations, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. In August 2011, he relieved as commander, Submarine Group 10, and in December 2013 as director, Undersea Warfare on the chief of naval operations staff in the Pentagon.

Tofalo assumed his current duties in September 2015. As commander, Submarine Forces he is the Undersea Domain lead, and is responsible for the submarine force’s strategic vision. As commander, Submarine Force Atlantic, he commands all Atlantic-based U.S. submarines, their crews and supporting shore activities. These responsibilities also include duties as commander, Task Force (CTF) 144, CTF 84; commander, Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Forces Western Atlantic; and CTF 46. As commander, Allied Submarine Command, he provides advice to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Strategic Commanders on submarine related issues.

Cmdr. Gabriel Cavazos
USS Washington Commanding Officer

Cmdr. Gabriel Cavazos
USS Washington Commanding Officer

Cmdr. Gabriel Cavazos

Cmdr. Gabriel Cavazos, a native of San Antonio graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1998 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. After his department head tour, he served as a flag aide and then earned his master’s degree at the United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College.

After completing nuclear power school and initial submarine training, Cavazos reported to USS Newport News (SSN 750) where he qualified submarines and served as the electrical officer, Reactor Control Division officer, damage control assistant, communicator and assistant operations officer.

Following his initial sea tour, Commander Cavazos served as a tactics instructor at the Submarine Learning Facility in Norfolk. He then served onboard USS Philadelphia (SSN 690) as the navigator/operations officer through June 2008, earning the Battle “E” and completing one U.S. Central Command deployment.

Subsequently, he served as the executive officer on USS Ohio (SSGN 726)(G) and completed two mission periods in the Western Pacific. In November 2012, Cavazos reported to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) staff, Programming Division (N80) and served as the submarine, aircraft carrier and strategic systems programs analyst. He also served in the Military Personnel Plans and Policy Division (N13) where he assisted with Sailor 2025 and Force of the Future implementation.

Cavazos became the commanding officer of USS Washington (SSN 787) in April 2017.

Cavazos wears the Defense Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Navy Commendation Medal (three awards), the Navy Achievement Medal (three awards), and various unit and campaign awards.

Capt. Rich McDaniel
Commanding Officer, Naval Station Norfolk

Capt. Rich McDaniel
Commanding Officer, Naval Station Norfolk

Capt. Rich McDaniel

Capt. Rich McDaniel is a native of Memphis, Tennessee where he attended the University of Memphis, earning a Bachelor of Arts in History and was subsequently commissioned in 1992. He is a 2006 distinguished graduate and Halsey Group participant of the Naval War College in Newport,  Rhode Island where he earned a Master of Arts degree in National Security Affairs and Strategic Studies.  He is also a 2013 graduate of the Joint Forces Staff College, where he completed Joint Professional Military Education, Phase II.  Additionally, he earned a Certificate in Public Leadership from Washington University in St. Louis and Brookings Executive Education program.

At sea, McDaniel completed his command tour aboard the USS Sterett (DDG 104). He completed her maiden deployment and deployed again to U.S. 5th Fleet with the     Abraham Lincoln Strike Group following a condensed training cycle. During his tenure, Sterett  earned two consecutive Battle-E awards.

Throughout his career he has served at sea on five U.S. Navy combatants and two afloat staffs. He has 23 years of naval service and has deployed multiple times to the Arabian Gulf, Western Pacific, Eastern Pacific, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and Caribbean. He also served as executive officer aboard USS Phillippine Sea  (CG 58), and assistant maritime operations officer for Carrier Strike Group 12, operations officer for Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 6, and combat system officer on USS Obannon (DD 987), first lieutenant and strike officer on USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) and communications officer on USS England (CG 22).

McDaniel’s shore duty assignments include Officer Manpower Requirements Analyst at the Naval Manpower Analysis Center, Millington, Tennessee, and as Atlantic Fleet placement officer and surface warfare lieutenant commander and commander detailer, PERS- 41, Navy Personnel Command. He was the 2012-2013 federal executive fellow at the Brookings Institute where he wrote “No Plan B: U.S. Strategic Access and the Question of Bahrain.” He served as the Strategy Plans Integration Branch chief within the Joint Staff J5, deputy directorate for joint strategic planning (DD JSP). Most recently, he served as the inaugural “Breakfast Club” O-6 working group lead for the Deputy Secretary of Defense’s Advanced Capability Deterrence Panel initiative.

Lt. Cmdr. Darius V. Ahmadi
USS Washington Executive Officer

Lt. Cmdr. Darius V. Ahmadi
USS Washington Executive Officer

Lt. Cmdr. Darius Ahmadi

Lt. Cmdr. Darius Ahmadi, from Simi Valley, California, received his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Arizona State University in 2003. He earned his commission in 2004 from Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida. He earned his master’s degree in engineering management from Old Dominion University in 2010 and became a certified professional engineer in chemical engineering in 2012.

Following completion of initial nuclear power and submarine training, he served as a division officer onboard USS Columbus (SSN 762), in Pearl Harbor from 2005 to 2008. During his tour he completed a depot modernization period in Puget Sound Naval Shipyard followed by a Western Pacific (WESTPAC) deployment in 2008 receiving the Submarine Squadron (SUBRON) 7 Battle Efficiency Award.

Upon completion of the Submarine Officer Advanced Course in May 2012, he reported onboard USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) in San Diegoas the engineer officer. On board from 2012 to 2014, the ship completed one deployment in 2013 followed by a Pre-Inactivation Restricted Availability in 2014 and received the SUBRON Battle Efficiency Award.

Ahmadi’s first shore tour was a non-traditional shore duty assignment as a Tomahawk mission planner and officer in charge of the U.S. 7th Fleet Strike Planning Cell onboard the USS Blueridge (LCC-19) in Yokosuka, Japan, from 2008-2010. Following that tour, he served as an instructor and division director at Naval Nuclear Power Training Command in Charleston, South Carolina, from 2010-2011. Following his department head tour, he served as the SUBRON-7 engineer in Pearl Harbor from 2014-2017.

Ahmadi became the executive officer of USS Washington (SSN 787) in June 2017 after attending the Submarine Command Course in Groton, Connecticut.

Ahmadi’s awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (four awards), Navy Achievement Award (two awards), Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, and SUBRON Battle Efficiency (two awards).

Master Chief Machinist Mate - Weapons Melvin O. Walker
USS Washington Chief of the Boat

Master Chief Machinist Mate - Weapons Melvin O. Walker
USS Washington Chief of the Boat

Master Chief Melvin Walker

Master Chief Melvin Walker was born in Chicago and is a 1995 graduate of Victor Valley High School, Victorville, California, . He enlisted in the Navy in December 1995, attended recruit training in Great Lakes and continued his training at Basic Enlisted Submarine School and Torpedoman “A” school in Groton, Connecticut.

In August 1996, Walker reported onboard USS Michigan (SSBN 727) in Bangor, Washington . During his assignment, he completed submarine warfare qualifications, advanced to petty officer second class and completed 10 strategic deterrence patrols.

In September 2001, he was assigned to Naval Weapons Station Det. Seal Beach in San Diego as the quality assurance chief inspector where he was advanced to petty officer first class.

In September 2004, he graduated Basic Vertical Launching System Operator training at Naval Submarine School in Groton and reported onboard USS Jefferson City (SSN 759) in San Diego. There he completed one deployment to the Western Pacific and advanced to chief petty officer.

In September 2006, he transferred to USS Hampton(SSN 767) in Norfolk as the Torpedo Division leading chief petty officer. There he completed two Western Pacific deployments and a change of homeport to San Diego.

In January 2009, he was assigned to Commander Submarine Squadron (SUBRON) 8 in Norfolk as the torpedo representative. Upon decommissioning of SUBRON-8, Walker relieved as the same position in Squadron 6. In January 2012, he reported onboard USS Boise(SSN 764) in Norfolk as the torpedo division leading chief petty officer and Combat Systems Department enlisted advisor. He completed one Northern Atlantic deployment and one Central Command deployment.

In March 2015, Walker reported to Commander, Submarine Forces Atlantic as a member of the Tactical Readiness Team.

Walker is a graduate of the Senior Enlisted Academy and Command Leadership School in Newport, Rhode Island. His personal decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four awards), the Navy and Marine Achievement Medal (six awards), and various unit awards.

 

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Stories

Construction Begins on SSN 787, Marking Unprecented Production
Sept. 8, 2011

Read on Navy.mil

SECNAV Mabus Attends USS Washington Ship Naming Ceremony
Feb. 7, 2013

Read on Navy.mil

Navy to Christen Submarine Washington
March 4, 2016

Read on Navy.mil

Future USS Washington (SSN 787) Delivered to the Navy
May 27, 2017

Read on Navy.mil

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Photos

Feb. 7, 2012

SEATTLE (Feb 7, 2012) Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus delivers remarks at a ceremony celebrating the naming of the Navy's next Virginia-class attack submarine, USS Washington (SSN 787), at the Port of Seattle Headquarters in Seattle. Mabus thanked the people of Seattle for their support and contributions to the Navy and discussed the special bond that exists between a state and its namesake vessel. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Sam Shavers/Released)
SEATTLE (Feb 7, 2012) Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus delivers remarks at a ceremony celebrating the naming of the Navy’s next Virginia-class attack submarine, USS Washington (SSN 787), at the Port of Seattle Headquarters in Seattle. Mabus thanked the people of Seattle for their support and contributions to the Navy and discussed the special bond that exists between a state and its namesake vessel. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Sam Shavers/Released)

 

Nov. 22, 2014

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Nov. 22, 2014) Newport News Shipbuilding employee and Washington state native Dustin Utecht welds the initials of Elisabeth Mabus, sponsor and daughter of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, onto a steel plate that will be permanently affixed to the submarine Washington (SSN 787) during a keel laying ceremony. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Newport News Shipbuilding by Chris Oxley/Released)
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Nov. 22, 2014) Newport News Shipbuilding employee and Washington state native Dustin Utecht welds the initials of Elisabeth Mabus, sponsor and daughter of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, onto a steel plate that will be permanently affixed to the submarine Washington (SSN 787) during a keel laying ceremony. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Newport News Shipbuilding by Chris Oxley/Released)

 

March 5, 2016

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (March 5, 2016) Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus delivers remarks during the christening ceremony for the Navy ís newest Virginia-class attack submarine, the future USS Washington (SSN 787) in Newport News Shipbuilding. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Sam Shavers/Released)
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (March 5, 2016) Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus delivers remarks during the christening ceremony for the Navy ís newest Virginia-class attack submarine, the future USS Washington (SSN 787) in Newport News Shipbuilding. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Sam Shavers/Released)
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (March. 5, 2016) Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus looks on as Elisabeth Mabus, his daughter and ship's sponsor, christens the Navy’s newest Virginia-class attack submarine, the future USS Washington (SSN 787) in Newport News, Va. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Sam Shavers/Released)
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (March 5, 2016) Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus looks on as Elisabeth Mabus, his daughter and ship’s sponsor, christens the Navy’s newest Virginia-class attack submarine, the future USS Washington (SSN 787) in Newport News, Va. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Sam Shavers/Released)
NEWPORT NEWS, VA (March 5, 2016) Elisabeth Mabus, daughter of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, smashes a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow of Virginia-class submarine Washington (SSN 787) today, christening the submarine named for the Evergreen State. Washington will be the seventh Virginia-class submarine to be delivered by Newport News Shipbuilding. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy John Whalen, Huntington Ingalls Industries/Released)
NEWPORT NEWS, VA (March 5, 2016) Elisabeth Mabus, daughter of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, smashes a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow of Virginia-class submarine Washington (SSN 787) today, christening the submarine named for the Evergreen State. Washington will be the seventh Virginia-class submarine to be delivered by Newport News Shipbuilding. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy John Whalen, Huntington Ingalls Industries/Released)
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May 27, 2017

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (May 27, 2017) An undated photo of the future USS Washington (SSN 787). The Navy accepted delivery of the 14th submarine of the Virginia-class, May 26. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries by Matt Hildreth/Released)
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (May 27, 2017) An undated photo of the future USS Washington (SSN 787). The Navy accepted delivery of the 14th submarine of the Virginia-class, May 26. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries by Matt Hildreth/Released)

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Video

Sept. 23, 2017

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NORFOLK, Va. (Sept. 23, 2017) Pre-Commissioning Unit Washington (SSN 787) pulls into Naval Station Norfolk after completing sea trials. Washington is scheduled to be commissioned Oct. 7, 2017 at Naval Station Norfolk. (U.S. Navy video by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Mike DiMestico/Released)