Updated: 09/07/2013 2:07 PM KSTP.com By: Jennie Olson
The USS Minnesota
Photo: KSTP-TV/Joe Mazan
The USS Minnesota joined the Navy's fleet of attack submarines on Saturday during a ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk.
The Minnesota is the 10th Virginia class submarine, which was specifically designed for the post-Cold War era.
The 377-foot long ship is capable of submerged speeds of more than 29 mph and can stay submerged for up to three months at a time. Virginia class submarines like the Minnesota are especially maneuverable in shallow waters, and were designed with plenty of room for special forces and their equipment to come aboard.
Like other classes of attack submarines, the Minnesota is designed to fight enemy submarines and surface ships and can also fire Tomahawk cruise missiles at targets on shore.
The U.S. is building two Virginia-class submarines a year, at a cost of about $2.6 billion each. So far, those submarines have been delivered ahead of schedule.
The Minnesota was delivered to the Navy in June, 11 months earlier than the original contract called for.
The ship will spend several months in Norfolk before moving to its designated home port of Groton, Conn.
The submarine is the third Navy ship to bear the name Minnesota, with the first being a steam frigate during the Civil War and the second a battleship that part of the 'Great White Fleet' President Theodore Roosevelt ordered to sail around the world.
Memorabilia from the first two Minnesota ships was on display at Saturday's commissioning.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reporter Mark Albert and photojournalist Chad Nelson were the only Minnesota media allowed onboard the sub for a two-day visit in August, as the 7,800 ton submarine headed out to sea. See our coverage here.
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