By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class T.H. Merritt, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs
GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- A milestone in the life of the Navy's newest Virginia-class submarine was marked April 16 as the crew of Pre-Commissioning Unit Missouri (SSN 780) moved aboard and began bringing the submarine's systems to life on "In Service Day" in Groton, Conn.
During "In Service Day," crew members moved aboard the submarine and began general day-to-day operations and preparations for sea-trials, work-ups and eventual commissioning.
Cmdr. Timothy Rexrode, the submarine's commanding officer, leads a crew of about 134 officers and enlisted personnel.
Rexrode said they were excited, as they hurried across the gangway.
"'In Service Day' is a big day for the crew because we take control of the sub's safety and security from the folks at General Dynamics Electric Boat," said Rexrode, from Spencer, W.Va.
"We are training everyday, so we can prepare to set sail and take the lead as America's newest submarine."
The 7,800-ton Missouri is being built under a teaming arrangement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding Newport News.
Missouri is designed with a nuclear reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time.
Among the many improved comforts for the crew is the submarine's galley. Redesigned for the Virginia-class, the galley is four-times larger than that of the Los Angeles and Seawolf-class submarines.
Culinary Specialist Seaman Paul Hites understands the importance of great food for the crew.
"Being a cook on a sub is a big deal. Preparing good food helps keep the crew's morale up," said Hites.
"It really is an important job that I take pride in."
The Virginia-class of submarines is tailored to excel in a wide range of warfighting missions. These include anti-submarine and surface ship warfare; special operation forces; strike; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; carrier and expeditionary strike group support; and mine warfare.
Also in Virginia-class boats, traditional periscopes have been supplanted by two photonics masts that house color, high-resolution black and white and infrared digital cameras atop telescoping arms.
Missouri will be the seventh Virginia-class submarine delivered to the Navy when she is commissioned July 31 at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton.
Missouri is the fifth Navy ship to be named in honor of the state of Missouri.
The last USS Missouri, the legendary battleship, saw action in World War II, the Korean War and the Persian Gulf War, and the battleship was also the site where Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and many other U.S. and Allied officers accepted the unconditional surrender the Japanese at the end of World War II Sept. 2, 1945.
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