GREAT FALLS — The USS Montana Committee has been traveling around the state presenting an update on how the USS Montana submarine is progressing.
A Virginia Class nuclear-powered fast attack submarine, SSN 794 was christened September 12, 2020. Construction completion and testing are continuing.
A bell-ringing ceremony was held in Great Falls on Monday, November 15, 2021.
The bell is a submarine-sized replica of the bell that was aboard the first and only other USS MONTANA, Armored Cruiser Number 13 commissioned in 1908. That warship, and her bell on permanent display at the University of Montana Adams Center, saw service in the Middle East during the Ottoman Empire, brought home the bodies of sailors, marines and soldiers killed in the U.S. invasion and occupation of Vera Cruz, Mexico in 1914, and escorted convoys in the Atlantic during World War I.
The new bell carries the 1908 bell’s inscriptions, but also the powerful emblem of the new warship. In a striking connection with the Navy and our state motto, Oro y Plata (Gold and Silver), the bell has melted into it gold and silver dolphin pins worn by qualified submariners (gold by officers, silver by enlisted sailors). It also has real Montana gold and silver in its brass. Beginning with the USS MONTANA’s commissioning next year, the Oro y Plata bell will be seen and heard in U.S. and foreign ports. And it will be “on scene, unseen” – of course unheard – with the MONTANA in potentially dangerous places in defense of our nation.
The bell is currently on tour throughout Montana, bringing both pride and tears when its clear and powerful ring tones provide a solemn and emotional reminder of the service and sacrifices of veterans, our active duty military’s future veterans, and first responders everywhere.
Committee chair Bill Whitsitt was excited to see what the upcoming months have in store for the USS Montana: “She has been in the works since about 2015 and we are excited to see what the engineers and the crew have been able to do with her to get her ready. She's close to being ready to go to sea, the crew and is eager to check out to sea. We are proud of what they have done and what the ship holders have done to get Montana where she is today.“
From the USS Montana Committee website:
A Virginia Class nuclear-powered fast attack submarine, the USS MONTANA will have the most advanced stealth capability. This will enable critical Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations. She’ll be lethal, able to protect carrier and expeditionary strike groups, as well as hunt and destroy enemy attack and missile submarines and surface ships.
The USS MONTANA will have the ability to precisely navigate in shallower waters to come close to adversaries. She’ll be multi-mission-capable, able to deploy and detect mines, launch Tomahawk cruise missiles against land targets, and insert entire platoon-size Navy SEAL special operations teams into dangerous areas, all while submerged.