Progress! On Key Milestones – and Even the Big Sky Saloon… (posted 8/19/21)

Progress continues on board the future USS MONTANA.

Commanding Officer CDR Jon Quimby reports that since last month’s reactor certification was completed, other significant milestones have been accomplished along the way to delivery of the MONTANA to the Navy.

Sponsor Sally Jewell with a thumbs-up on first meal day aboard MONTANA as Chief of the Boat (COB) Tim Baldwin looks on (Photo courtesy HII, Lena Wallace)

“First,” says CDR Quimby, “we opened up the ‘Big Sky Saloon’, the nickname of MONTANA’s galley. For our first official meal onboard, we invited the ship’s sponsor, Sally Jewel, and marked the occasion with an outstanding meal of steak and shrimp, and of course, ice cream for dessert, or “hard pack,” in Sailor speak. Our Culinary Specialist Division and Food Service Attendants have been working for hours on end to bring the galley, crew’s mess and the wardroom to life, and they have done an outstanding job. Keeping over 140 Sailors happy and well-fed is a full-time job, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how they have performed.”

The next major milestone was what is known as “In-Service” status achieved on July 30th. According to the CO, “From the time MONTANA stood up as a crew in 2018, we have been working and preparing to man the ship from office spaces within the shipyard. On July 30th, we officially moved aboard the ship, and are conducting our day-to-day business on board while we and the shipyard complete remaining construction and testing prior to sea trials. This milestone additionally means that the crew has taken ownership of most requirements for safety and security on board the ship. We trained and executed many, many drills over the course of the last few months to ensure the crew was prepared and capable to assume these duties, and they have excelled.”

Finally, reports CDR Quimby, “We completed the first phase of our crew certification this past week. During this evaluation, our parent squadron conducted evaluations of our teams’ ability to safely operate and navigate the ship while surfaced and submerged. They also conducted reviews of qualifications and other records validating our ability to properly crew the ship. While we still have a second phase of crew certification left to achieve, this was a big first step in ensuring the crew is ready to perform when we get MONTANA underway for the first time.”

The USS Montana Committee is proud of all the achievements of the PCU MONTANA leadership and crew. We appreciate and look forward to future reports by CDR Quimby on progress toward next year’s commissioning of the future USS MONTANA into the Navy fleet.