June 4, 2021 – The Virginia-class attack submarine USS New Hampshire (SSN 778), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, participated in a longstanding submarine tradition during her recent deployment.
New Hampshire Sailors honored their recent deployment by creating a submarine battle flag. The flag consists of patches stitched together, each one representing an accomplishment or memory made by the crew.
Cmdr. Bennett Christman, New Hampshire’s commanding officer, spoke on the importance of Sailors using submarine battle flags to maintain the connection to submariners of the past.
“Each symbol represents one specific achievement, however, the manner of its display is a longstanding tradition that connects modern submariners to the earliest days of our profession,” said Christman. “Successful World War II patrols of boats like Barb, Tang, and Wahoo were best represented by the battle flags crafted by their Sailors.”
Originating in World War II, battle flags were a way for Sailors to keep an unofficial record of the number of ships sank. Although today’s flag holds a different meaning, Sailors continue to create battle flags to show respect to those who came before them and document peacetime events.
“While New Hampshire’s flag does not document combat operations like on Barb, Tang or Wahoo, it represents success in the most demanding peacetime operations,” said Christman. “The crew, the force, and the nation can take pride in the events this flag represents.”
According to Master Chief Sonar Technician (Submarine) Billy Singletary, New Hampshire’s chief of the boat, battle flags also serve as a reminder of the importance of preserving Navy traditions and customs.
“It is important to pass along submarine history and traditions for several reasons, the most important being we must understand where we came from,” said Singletary. “We must understand the humble beginnings of man-powered propulsion and reflect on the nuclear juggernauts we have become. By understanding the sacrifices of those who went before us, we can become a better force and nation.”
On May 7, 2021, New Hampshire returned home after a deployment where it executed the chief of naval operations’ maritime strategy by supporting national security interests and maritime security operations. Upon New Hampshire’s return, the battle flag consisted of:
• the number four to commemorate the boat’s 4th deployment
• a gold submarine warfare device, also known as ‘dolphins’, accompanied with the number five to display how many officers earned the insignia on deployment
• silver ‘dolphins’ accompanied with the number 23, representing how many enlisted Sailors earned their warfare device on the deployment
• a cross-wrench with the number 33 representing the number of times New Hampshire Sailor’s ingenuity helped while fixing equipment
• the number five and a bullseye to signify specific mission accomplishments
Fast-attack submarines are multi-mission platforms enabling five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities – sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence. They are designed to excel in anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship warfare, strike warfare, special operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, irregular warfare and mine warfare. Fast-attack submarines project power ashore with special operations forces and Tomahawk cruise missiles in the prevention or preparation of regional crises.
The Virginia-class submarine is 377 feet long and 34 feet wide, and weighs about 7,900 tons when submerged. Underwater, it can reach speeds in excess of 25 knots.