Previous Ships Named South Dakota

USS South Dakota (ACR-9)

The first USS South Dakota (ACR-9/CA-9), also referred to Armored Cruiser No. 9, and later renamed Huron, was a Pennsylvania-class armored cruiser. The ship was laid down Sept. 30, 1902 by the Union Iron Works in San Francisco, launched July 21 1904, and commissioned Jan. 27, 1908.

During World War I, South Dakota operated from Brazilian ports, performing patrol duty in the South Atlantic. In November 1918, the ship escorted troop convoys from the east coast to a mid-Atlantic rendezvous point where British cruisers joined the convoy. Following the Armistice, South Dakota made two voyages from Brest, France, to New York, returning troops to the U.S.

South Dakota was renamed Huron June 20, 1920 and served in the Asiatic Fleet for the next seven years. The ship was decommissioned June 17, 1927, struck from the Naval Vessel Register Nov. 15, 1929.

USS South Dakota (BB-57)

South Dakota's keel was laid July 5, 1939 by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation of Camden, N.J. The ship was launched June 7, 1941 and commissioned March 20, 1942.

During the Pacific Campaign of World War II, South Dakota took part in the 1942 Battle of Santa Cruz, and was credited with shooting down 26 Japanese planes. The battleship was hit once by a 500-pound bomb. While incapacitated by a power failure in the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, South Dakota received considerable topside damage – 42 shells hit the ship, knocking out radio communications and three fire-control radars, and destroying the main radar set.

South Dakota provided anti-aircraft support for various fast carrier task forces until June 1944, when it bombarded Saipan and Tinian. The battleship took part in the Marianas Turkey Shoot, when more than 300 attacking Japanese aircraft were shot down, though the ship was hit by a 500-pound bomb that killed 24 and wounded 27.

South Dakota was present at the surrender of Japan aboard USS Missouri on Sept. 2 1945, and left Tokyo Bay Sept. 20 for the west coast of the United States. Decommissioned Jan. 31, 1947, South Dakota was stricken from the Naval Register June 1, 1962.

The Submarine South Dakota

South Dakota is the 17th submarine of the Virginia Class. With the other ships of the class, it represents a revolution in submarine design, construction and mission capability. This versatile and powerful vessel will maximize the contribution the U.S. Submarine Force makes to national security.

South Dakota and the Virginia Class are among the most effective platforms in the U.S. Navy portfolio. Unobtrusive, non-provocative and connected with land, air, sea and space-based assets, these submarines are equipped to wage multi-dimensional warfare around the globe.

The central characteristic of the class is the modularity derived from the design / build approach, which supports efficient construction and mission capability. This provides the U.S. Navy with a submarine class that advances the state-of-the-art with each succeeding ship. South Dakota’s adaptability makes it highly responsive to changing mission requirements.

South Dakota will provide the submarine force with the capabilities required to dominate the open ocean and the littorals. In addition to anti-submarine, anti-surface ship and counter-mine warfare, South Dakota will support surveillance, Special Operations and covert strike missions.

Electric Boat, its construction partner Newport News Shipbuilding, and the U.S. Navy continue collaborating to reduce the cost of future ships while introducing new capabilities to ensure the ongoing relevance of South Dakota and the Virginia Class. Electric Boat’s goal remains unchanged – to provide the U.S. Navy with the most sophisticated undersea warships in the world.

South Dakota and Block III:

Reducing Costs, Retaining Capabilities

South Dakota is the seventh of the eight-ship group of Virginia-class submarines known as Block III.

These ships embody a Navy/industry commitment to reduce costs while maintaining or improving capabilities. The goal of this effort is to build Virginia-class submarines at a price that enables the Navy to maintain a production rate of two ships per year.

The cost reduction goals have been achieved through an initiative comprising improvements in construction practices, investment in new and more efficient facilities, a multi-year contract that enables the cost efficient purchase of material in multi-ship quantities and the Design For Affordability (DFA) program.

The Design For Affordability program focuses primarily on the redesign of the submarine’s bow, which will lower costs by $800 million over the remaining ships in the class while improving capability.

This redesign centers on the replacement of the existing sonar sphere with a Large Aperture Bow (LAB) Array and the 12 individual vertical launch missile tubes with two Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs). These are large diameter tubes that will each initially carry six missiles in multiple all-up round canisters.

The new LAB Array eliminates hundreds of hull penetrations, and replaces transducers with lower-cost, life-of-the-ship hydrophones resulting in reduced new construction and life-cycle maintenance costs.

By nearly doubling the payload space available from 1,200 cubic feet with the 12 vertical launch tubes to 2,300 cubic feet, the VPTs allow Virginia-class ships to deploy a wider variety of payloads.

Improvements in construction performance – coupled with the Virginia Class multi-year procurement acquisition strategy – are significantly reducing the time required to build a Virginia-class submarine. This is being achieved by maximizing the application of modular-construction techniques, and completing all planned work to exact, first-time quality standards, thereby improving efficiency. South Dakota is the 13th ship of the class assembled from the four-module build plan. By comparison, USS Virginia, the lead ship, was assembled from 10 modules.

These steps – along with others in process or development – support the production rate of two Virginia-class submarines per year and help the U.S. Navy achieve the force levels it requires.

Construction Timeline



June 23

Naming Ceremony


March 3

Construction Begins


April 4

Keel Laying


May 25

Pressure Hull Complete


Oct. 14

Christening Ceremony


Aug. 31

Contract Delivery