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Navy's Newest Attack Sub Named After Granite State

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. -- The country's newest nuclear-powered attack submarine will be officially commissioned into naval service on Saturday at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

The USS New Hampshire was built in its homeport of Groton, Conn., but it was students at Dover's Garrison School who successfully petitioned the Navy four years ago to name it in honor of the Granite State. Those students had a chance to tour the sub this week.

At 377 feet long and more than 7,000 tons, the sub is a world unto itself. Only 20 percent of the $2 billion sub is visible dockside, and it's built to travel the oceans unnoticed.
Fiber optics can beam light to the inside of the submarine, something that Cmdr. Mike Stevens said is welcome for the crew.

"We can pipe it into the crew's mess sometimes," he said. "That's nice for the crew to be able (to see some daylight). They want to know the sun still rises."

Touch screens in the control room direct speeds of more than 25 knots and diving depths of up to 800 feet. A torpedo room is capable of carrying cruise missiles and Special Forces.

"We shut the hatch behind them, fill the tank up with water and then open the upper hatch here above me," said Cmdr. John Thompson. "They swim out, off to do whatever they need to do."

The crew of 134 is based in Connecticut, and six are Granite Staters.

"I have to work with phone lines, and we rigged the bridge, which is up in the top of the sail," said Ryan Bourrie, of Concord.

Crew members do six hours of watch, six hours of paperwork and six hours getting rest in the rack.

Cooks prepare four meals a day to serve the crew throughout a 24-hour schedule.

The commissioning ceremony begins at 10 a.m. Saturday. It is not open to the public, but a giant screen will show the ceremony to the public across the river at Prescott Park.
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