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USS West Virginia (SSBN-736)
USS West Virginia (SSBN-736) underway in 1989.
USS West Virginia (SSBN-736), during alpha sea trials off the United States East Coast in 1989.
Career (US)
Namesake: The State of West Virginia
Ordered: 21 November 1983
Builder: General Dynamics Electric Boat, Groton, Connecticut
Laid down: 24 December 1987
Launched: 14 October 1989
Sponsored by: Mrs. Erma Byrd
Commissioned: 20 October 1990
Homeport: Kings Bay, Georgia
Motto: Montani Semper Liberi
("Mountaineers are Always Free")
Nickname: The Silent Mountaineer
Status: in active service, as of 2022
Badge: 736insig.png
General characteristics
Class & type: Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine
  • 16,764 metric tons (16,499 long tons) surfaced[1][2]
  • 18,750 metric tons (18,450 long tons) submerged[1]
Length: 560 ft (170 m)
Beam: 42 ft (13 m)[1]
Draft: 38 ft (12 m)
  • 1 × S8G PWR nuclear reactor[1]
  • 2 × geared turbines[1]
  • 1 × 325 hp (242 kW) auxiliary motor
  • 1 × shaft @ 60,000 shp (45,000 kW)[1]
Speed: Greater than 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph)[3]
Test depth: Greater than 800 feet (240 m)[3]
  • MK-48 torpedoes
  • 24 × Trident II D-5 ballistic missiles
  • USS West Virginia (SSBN-736) is a United States Navy Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine which has been in commission since 1990. She is the third U.S. Navy ship to be named for West Virginia, the 35th state, and the 11th of 18 Ohio-class submarines.

    Construction and commissioning

    USS West Virginia (SSBN-736) at Port Everglades, Florida, on 4 May 1994.

    The contract to build West Virginia was awarded to the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation in Groton, Connecticut, on 21 November 1983 and her keel was laid down there on 24 December 1987. She was launched on 14 October 1989, sponsored by Mrs. Erma Byrd, wife of United States Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, and commissioned on 20 October 1990, with Captain J. R. Harvey in command of the Blue Crew and Captain Donald McDermott in command of the Gold Crew.

    Service history

    USS West Virginia (SSBN-736) is based at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia.[4] On 29 December 2008, Captain Daniel Mack, commander of Submarine Squadron 16/20, relieved West Virginia's commanding officer, Commander Charles “Tony” Hill, of command "due to a loss of confidence" in Hill's ability to command. Captain Stephen Gillespie was assigned as West Virginia's temporary commanding officer.[4]

    Sept. 2010: The approximate 300 Sailors assigned to the two crews that alternate patrols on the West Virginia merge into one crew of about 110 sailors during the overhaul and refueling, which will be done at the Norfolk Navy Shipyard (NNSY) in Norfolk, Va., beginning in early 2011.[5] Commander Adam D. Palmer relieved Commander Steven K. Hall as commanding officer of the Ohio-class ballistic submarine USS West Virginia (SSBN 736) during a change of command ceremony 9 Sept. at Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Va.[6]

    Community Support

    USS West Virginia’s Blue and Gold crew members regularly return to the state of West Virginia to participate in parades, community service projects and initiatives. West Virginia's commissioning crew established a relationship with the West Virginia Children's Home (WVCH) in 1990. WVCH Director Carson Markley, who attended the ship's commissioning, appreciates the special bond between the ship and the WVCH.[7]

    "The children at the West Virginia Children's Home have generally been neglected, abused and feel that no one cares for them. The crew of USS West Virginia almost immediately, upon arriving at the home, began to show concern and a real understanding for not just a few, but all the kids they come into contact with," said Markley.[7]

    USS West Virginia in fiction

    • In Tom Clancy's 1994 novel Debt of Honor, West Virginia is one of several submarines sent to deal with a Japanese invasion of the Northern Mariana Islands. She is used as a "slow-attack" submarine, relying on her stealthiness and her torpedo tubes in combating Japanese forces.


    • This article includes information collected from the Naval Vessel Register, which, as a U.S. government publication, is in the public domain. The entry can be found here.
    • Photo gallery of USS West Virginia at NavSource Naval History

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