USS Virginia (SSN 774), the first in the newest class of fast-attack submarines, completed a change of homeports from Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut, on Wednesday, April 12.

The move marked completion of USS Virginia’s scheduled maintenance and upgrades at the Kittery, Maine, shipyard and return to the operational fleet.

With its homeport change, Virginia, which is commanded by Cmdr. Jess B. Feldon, will transition from operating under the shipyard-based Submarine Squadron (SUBRON) 2 to the Groton-based SUBRON 4.

“We’re excited to welcome USS Virginia back to the Submarine Capital of the World, where she’ll bring her stealth and firepower back to the tip of the spear,” said Capt. Jason Grizzle, commander of SUBRON 4. “We know Cmdr. Feldon and his crew are ready and eager to execute any mission our nation requires. As the first of 21 state-of-the-art fast-attack submarines – and counting – it’s an honor for all of us to play a part in the next chapter of her long and decorated life.”

The 377-foot-long USS Virginia was commissioned in 2004 as the first in its class, following 62 smaller 362-foot-long Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarines commissioned between 1976 and 1996.

The Virginia class ushered in several innovations that significantly enhanced the Navy’s undersea warfighting capabilities. The class incorporated features to better support special operations forces (SOF), including a reconfigurable torpedo room which can accommodate a large number of SOF personnel and all of their equipment for prolonged deployments.

Additionally, the Virginia-class submarines replaced traditional periscopes with two photonics masts that host visible and infrared digital cameras atop telescoping arms. The removal of the barrel periscopes allowed the ship’s control room to be moved down one deck and away from the hull’s curvature, affording it more room and an improved layout that provides the commanding officer with enhanced situational awareness.

Over the past two decades, through continuously upgraded Blocks of the class, Virginia-class submarines have been redesigned to reduce life-cycle costs, increase deployment availability, enhance passive sonar detection and expand payload capacity.

SSN 774 is the 10th U.S. Navy ship to be named Virginia, dating back to one of the 13 frigates authorized by the Continental Congress in 1775. The group also includes another first-in-class, the nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser commissioned in 1976 and decommissioned after 18 years in service.