The submarine will be named to honor the history its namesake state has with the Navy.
The future USS Montana will be the second commissioned naval vessel to bear the name. The first, commissioned in 1908, was a cruiser that operated largely off the east coast of the United States and the Caribbean until the beginning of World War I when it transported supplies and men. After the war, the cruiser made six round trips from Europe, returning 8,800 American troops.
Montana was the only state among the 48 in the union when America was building battleships to never have one named after it. Montana (BB 51) had her keel laid in 1918, but construction was cancelled after the Washington Naval Treaty limited the amount of warship tonnage the United States could have after World War I.
Montana (BB 67) was slated to be the lead of the Montana-class of battleships, which were a third-larger than the Iowa class, with improved protection against underwater weapons and shellfire. The five-ship class was authorized under the "Two Ocean Navy" building program for Fiscal Year 1941. However, with the need for more aircraft carriers, amphibious ships and anti-submarine vessels, the Montana-class building program was suspended in May 1942 and cancelled the following year before any of the keels were laid.
Virginia-class attack submarines provide the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation's undersea supremacy well into the 21st century. They have enhanced stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that will enable them to meet the Navy's multi-mission requirements.
These submarines have the capability to attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert, long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters or other sea-based forces. Other missions include anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare; mine delivery and minefield mapping. They are also designed for special forces delivery and support.
Each Virginia-class submarine is 7,800-tons and 377 feet in length, has a beam of 34 feet, and can operate at more than 25 knots submerged. They are designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time.
The submarine will be built under a unique teaming agreement between General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) and Huntington Ingalls Industries' Newport News Shipbuilding division wherein both companies build certain portions of each submarine and then alternate deliveries. Montana will be delivered by Newport News Shipbuilding.
During the ceremony, Mabus also acknowledged the naming of the littoral combat ship USS Billings (LCS 15), which occurred in 2013.
A fast, agile surface combatant, the LCS provides the required warfighting capabilities and operational flexibility to execute a variety of missions in areas such as mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare.