The fourth U.S. Navy ship named for the capital city of the state of Montana.
(SSN-725: displacement 6,203; length 362'; beam 33'; draft 31'; speed 25 knots; complement 110; armament UGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles, UGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and Mk 48 torpedoes -- four torpedo tubes; class Los Angeles)
The fourth Helena (SSN-725) was laid down on 28 March 1985 at General Dynamics Electric Boat, Groton, Conn.; launched on 28 June 1986; sponsored by Mrs. Jean C. Busey, wife of Adm. James B. Busey IV, Commander Allied Forces Southern Europe; and commissioned on 11 July 1987 at Naval Submarine Base New London, Conn., Cmdr. Thomas W. Moore in command.
On 1 January 2004, Capt. Dennis Murphy, Commander Submarine Squadron 7, Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet, announced that seven submarines -- Cheyenne (SSN-773), City of Corpus Christi (SSN-705), Los Angeles (SSN-688), Louisville (SSN-724), Michigan (SSBN-727), Parche (SSN-683), and Tucson (SSN-770) -- received the coveted Battle Efficiency award for their operations during the preceding year.
“I am very proud of the Squadron 7 submarines,” Murphy said. “Four of the five Squadron 7 submarines deployed in 2003. USS Tucson launched the first Tactical Tomahawk in an exercise from a submarine, and USS Cheyenne was the first U.S. warship to fire Tomahawks into Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
Sailors use mooring lines to pull Helena into medium auxiliary repair dry dock (non-self-propelled) Arco (ARDM-5) for routine scheduled maintenance at Naval Base Point Loma, Calif., 10 January 2006. (Journalist Seaman Joseph Caballero, U.S. Navy Photograph 060110-N-3532C-044, Navy NewsStand)
Helena, Cmdr. Daniel J. Brunk in command, operated with attack submarine Annapolis (SSN-760) -- which sailed from Norfolk, Va. -- during Ice Exercise (Icex) 2009, in the Beaufort Sea, in the Arctic Ocean about 200 miles north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska (28 February–28 April 2009). The Navy’s Director of Submarine Warfare (OpNav N87), together with the Arctic Submarine Laboratory, located at Naval Base Point Loma, Calif., planned and coordinated Icex 2009. A temporary tracking range, consisting of a small village constructed and operated by the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory, was built onto the ice to support the exercise. Helena thus faced the added challenge of passing through the Bering Strait during her voyage.
A detachment of British Royal Navy (RN) officers also deployed to the camp, and their deployment proved especially poignant because of the loss of two RN sailors during Icex 2007. British attack submarine Tireless (S.88) had operated with Alexandria (SSN-757) during that exercise, but an explosion erupted on board Tireless on 21 March 2007, killing Leading Operator Mechanic Paul McCann, RN, and Operator Maintainer 2 Anthony Huntrod, RN. On 21 March 2009, the people at the camp and on board Helena and Annapolis held a moment of silence in honor of McCann and Huntrod. Adm. Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations, visited the camp overnight on 21 and 22 March.
“The Arctic is important to the nation and the Navy because it really is a maritime domain,” Roughead explained. “We have some very fundamental interests — security interests — in the Arctic region. We've been here operating in this part of the world for a long time.
The admiral further elaborated: “It gives us the opportunity to test our combat systems, our navigation systems, our communication systems and just what it’s like to operate in this very challenging environment. By coming up here, being part of not just a Navy initiative but a scientific initiative, it really helps out not just the Navy but other communities as well.”
Adm. Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations (right), speaks with Capt. Greg Ott, officer in tactical command of the Applied Physics Lab Ice Station, while touring the Arctic camp during Icex 2009, 22 March 2009. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tiffini M. Jones, U.S. Navy Photograph 090322-N-8273J-194, Navy NewsStand)
The admiral (right) chats with people while touring the camp, 22 March 2009. The staff strings Christmas lights in an effort to lighten their otherwise bleak surroundings. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tiffini M. Jones, U.S. Navy Photograph 090321-N-8273J-668, Navy NewsStand)
Helena sails from Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, N.H., after completing extended maintenance, 20 May 2011. Despite the advent of spring, her watchstanders bundle themselves against the chill New England weather. (James Cleveland, U.S. Navy Photograph 110520-N-NC292-101, Navy NewsStand)
Detailed history under construction.
Mark L. Evans
20 August 2015