The year 2022 was truly historic for the USS MONTANA and her crew. Highlighted by her commissioning on June 25, SSN 794 saw her crew become award-winning (receiving among its recognition a special unique “Battle E” award, explained in a previous News page blog).
Following her commissioning, the pace aboard MONTANA slowed only a bit as testing and training continued, the latter now more mission-focused in preparation for the expected eventual move to the Pacific Fleet. And then there was a return to sea during the first week of December.
Here is a recap from SSN 794’s commanding officer, CDR Jon Quimby, explaining the lead-up to the return to sea, and how the crew has been doing toward year-end:
Until December we were busy planning, training, and preparing for several acoustic and weapons test programs we needed to execute before heading back over to Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding (HII) in January for drydocking.
The watch teams spent many hours simulating every aspect of what we ended up doing at sea in December, utilizing the onboard training systems that we have installed, and going to shore-based training simulators. Ultimately, it all paid off and we got the chance to shoot the first exercise torpedoes ever launched from MONTANA in mid-December.
While we were in port in Norfolk for the summer, we had many interesting opportunities to host VIP tours on the boat. We showed off the newest submarine in the fleet to the CNO of the French Navy, members of the German parliament, members of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the chief of Israeli Defense Forces, among others.
The officers and crew have had plenty of time for fun too. Our supply officer and two sailors had the privilege of visiting Montana back in August, spending almost a week touring the eastern part of the state with wonderful hosts from the USS Montana Committee.
In September, we played our first ever softball tournament. Nearly the whole crew was able to spend a day playing ball and cooking out. The officer team came out on top and claimed the trophy, which is now on display in the wardroom.
During our at-sea time, we were able to send about twenty sailors ashore for a few days each in the Bahamas while the ship completed acoustic and weapons testing.
The highlight of the trip for the crew was doing a swim call in the Bahamas just prior to us heading back to Norfolk in time for Christmas holidays.
Once we get back from our holiday leave period, we will get MONTANA ready to start the Post Shakedown Availability, which will last about ten months. The ship will be drydocked at HII for most of this time, and we’ll get a few system upgrades as well as repairs to various items we’ve identified over the past nine months of operations.
With this background, CDR Quimby has asked that we pass to all Montanans and others the appreciation of the leaders and sailors of SSN 794 for the support received through 2022 – and best wishes for 2023!
We’re very proud of the officers and crew of the USS MONTANA, and we’ll look forward to welcoming a number of them to the Treasure State in the coming year. Please watch for information as to where, how, and when you can meet and visit with them.
Finally, we join CDR Quimby and the entire MONTANA crew in wishing you a Happy New Year!