News from the boat

November 2023 Newsletter

Fast Cruise and Sea Trials

Later this month the next USS New Jersey (SSN 796) will complete two major operational milestones on her path toward commissioning, Fast Cruise and Initial Sea Trials.  The submarine is presently at a Newport News Shipbuilding pier along the James River in Virginia.  After over 4-1/2 years of construction, the submarine is nearly complete, she has demonstrated operational readiness of major systems and equipment, and her crew is trained and ready to take her to sea for the first time.

Fast Cruise is a simulated underway period with the submarine remaining tied up to the pier.  The purpose is to assess the crew’s ability to safely take the ship to sea for the first time.  At the start of Fast Cruise, the submarine and crew are ready in all respects for the subsequent commencement of Initial Sea Trials.  The reactor will be started up with the power plant steaming, all utilities will be disconnected from the pier, and the crew will operate the submarine as if it is underway.  New Jersey crewmembers will station the Maneuvering Watch and simulate getting underway and transiting on the surface out to sea.  They will rig the submarine for dive, stand and rotate through all watch sections, conduct various ship-wide evolutions, and exercise each underway watch section through routine evolutions and casualty drills.  The crew will establish a normal underway routine, including taking their underway meals and sleeping in their racks.

Immediately following the successful completion of Fast Cruise New Jersey will get underway for Initial Sea Trials, also referred to as Alpha Sea Trials.  During Alpha Sea Trials New Jersey will spend several days at sea to test the boat’s systems and components.  Major testing includes submerging the submarine for the first time, checking initial water tightness, propulsion plant performance testing, high-speed maneuvers while on the surface and submerged, and testing of the emergency main ballast tank blow system.  New Jersey will also test sonar, communications, weapons systems, and auxiliary systems.  Alpha Sea Trials is an opportunity for the crew to perform and put all their training to practical use.

New Jersey is designed to carry an integrated male and female crew of 134, but during Alpha Sea Trials she is expected to have approximately 200 people on board, including representatives from the shipbuilder and senior U.S. Navy leadership.  This level of participation reflects the collective confidence and trust in the design, construction, quality, and testing of the submarine and her systems, and training and competence of the officers and crew. 

Completion of Alpha Sea Trials will be a huge milestone and justifiable source of immense pride for everyone involved including the officers and crew, U.S. Navy civilian and military leadership, government officials, thousands of suppliers from around the country, and shipbuilders from Newport News Shipbuilding and Electric Boat.  We look forward to reporting successful completion as Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) New Jersey proceeds through the subsequent sea trials stages toward her commissioning as USS New Jersey at Naval Weapons Station Earle pier in Sandy Hook Bay on April 6, 2024.  We hope to see you there.