A Naval Powerhouse in Our Backyard: The USS IDAHO Prepares to Set Sail from Groton on its Maiden Voyage

Sat Feb 10th, 2024

By Nathaniel Stevenson, Greenport Schools Class of 2024, Greenport, New York

Groton, CT - On the bank of the Thames River, The USS Idaho (SSN-799), a Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine, awaits its momentous launch from General Dynamics’ Electric Boat shipbuilders. This event, expected in early 2024, marks not just the birth of a powerful vessel, but also a testament to the cutting-edge engineering and shipbuilding prowess right here in our own backyard.

Unmatched Stealth, Unquestionable Power: The Legacy of the Mighty Virginia-Class

Virginia-class submarines are the Navy’s workhorses, silently patrolling the world’s oceans, gathering intelligence, and deterring potential threats. These stealthy machines are more than just underwater warships; they are marvels of modern technology, packing a potent punch in a streamlined hull.

With a displacement of over 7,800 tons, the USS Idaho will be a powerful force beneath the waves. It will be propelled by a whisper-quiet electric drive system and features 21 inch torpedoes, Tomahawk cruise missiles, and special operations vehicles, making it a versatile tool for a wide range of missions. Powered by a single S9G nuclear reactor, its range is limited only by how much food it can carry for the crew. Greenport alumni Matthew Blasko, Class of 2022, enlisted in the Navy as a nuclear machinist’s mate. Blasko, finishing his training this May, will soon be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of one such reactor. He hopes to join Submarine Squadron 4 in the North Atlantic aboard the USS Hyman G. Rickover (pictured above).

General Dynamics: So Much History, So Near to Us

Electric Boat, where the USS Idaho takes form, is a subsidiary of General Dynamics, a company with a rich history intertwined with American naval power. Founded in 1852, Electric Boat has built over 6,000 submarines in Groton, Connecticut, making it the world leader in this specialized field.

Building a Virginia-class submarine is a colossal undertaking, both in terms of cost and complexity. Each vessel carries a price tag of around $2.6 billion, a testament to the cutting-edge technology and skilled labor involved. But this investment is crucial for national security, providing the Navy with the tools it needs to safeguard our interests around the globe. Beyond its firepower, the USS Idaho will be equipped with advanced sensors and communication systems, allowing it to gather and share vital intelligence with other units like drones and satellites. Its stealth capabilities make it nearly invisible to enemy detection, a crucial advantage in a world where political tensions could escalate at any time.

Idaho: A Name Forged in Steel

The USS Idaho is the fifth vessel to bear the name of the Gem State, a tradition dating back to the USS Idaho (BB-24), a battleship that served in both World Wars. Choosing this name signifies the strong bond between the Navy and the people of Idaho, a reminder of the contributions made by U.S. citizens, even those far from the ocean. In 2023, the future crew of the submarine visited the state of Idaho itself to better understand the name they’ll be representing as they navigate the world’s oceans in the years to come. 

The Idaho currently sits in front of the green Electric Boat building in New London Harbor, prepared to dip into the Long Island Sound and enter its military service. If you want to see it before it heads for the depths, you’ll have to act fast. In Groton’s shipyard, launch pads are precious. General Dynamics needs every square foot of space it can get to meet its agreed deadlines with the Navy and it won’t let Idaho slow it down. As the Idaho slips its berth this winter, the USS Utah already waits to take its place on the pier. Keel laid, and steel cut, the Utah is nearly complete. All this, just 20 miles from Greenport High School.

About the author: Nate Stevenson is a Commanding Officer of the Southold-Mattituck-Greenport NJROTC unit and a senior at Greenport High School on Long Island, New York. He hopes to attend the U.S. Naval Academy or the U.S. Air Force Academy next year with a focus on aviation. He lives on his family's farm in Orient, New York.

A Naval Powerhouse in Our Backyard: The USS IDAHO Prepares to Set Sail from Groton on its Maiden Voyage

USS Hyman G. Rickover, the Virginia-class submarine built just before Idaho, at Electric Boat after its construction.