Members of the USS Montana Committee inform the Tribal Council of the submarine’s progress | news

Mission Valley Honor Guard

The Mission Valley Honor Guard hoist the colors during the Yamncut Drum flag song.

Char Koosta news

PABL0 – In the spring of 2022, the USS Montana will officially join the US Navy’s nuclear submarine fleet. At the Tribal Council meeting last Thursday, two members of the USS Montana Committee briefed the Flathead Nation governing body and the public on the progress of the USS Montana. USS Montana Committee Chairman Bill Whitsitt and committee member Brian Lipscomb brought the submarine bell and peace pipe that will be on the USS Montana. It had a ceremonial feel because, after all, it was ceremonial.

Yamncut drum

The Yamncut Drum sings a song of honor at the ceremonies of the USS Montana in the chambers of the Tribal Council.

The event opened with a Yamncut Drum flag song and the display of the colors by the Mission Valley Honor Guard.

“We are giving the USS Montana the pipe of peace as a symbol of peace and protection for the crew of the USS Montana,” said Lipscomb. “We asked Dwight to build the peace pipe.”

Dwight Billedeaux

Dwight Billedeaux explains the elements of the peace pipe he designed for permanent display on the USS Montana

Pikuni artist Dwight Billedeaux was commissioned to create a peace pipe that will be on permanent display on the USS Montana until decommissioned.

“It is an honor to do so,” said Billedeaux, then explained the meanings of the symbols he placed on them. “I am very proud and honored.”

The USS Montana, a 7,800-ton nuclear submarine, is expected to enter service in May 2022 when it joins the U.S. Navy, said Bill Whitsitt, chairman of the USS Montana Committee.

“We want to make sure the people serving on the USS Montana know about the Indians of this nation,” Whitsitt said, adding that the Flathead Nation’s contributions and blessings were heeded. Whitsitt and four Sailors, who will be crew members of the USS Montana, attended the 2018 Arlee Celebration and were honored by then Tribal Councilor Dennis Clairmont on behalf of the Flathead Nation.

In February 2019, the Tribal Council passed a resolution declaring its support for “the USS Montana Commission Committee in its efforts to support the commissioning and all those who sail aboard in defense of our nation.”

The Chairman of the USS Montana Committee, Bill Whitsitt

USS Montana Committee Chairman Bill Whitsitt briefs the Tribal Council on the progress of the state-named nuclear submarine.

Whitsitt showed a full-size submarine replica of the bell aboard the first and only other USS MONTANA, a cruiser that entered service in 1908 and decommissioned in 1921. The bell honors the Montana State motto, Oro y Plata (gold and silver). Real Montana gold and silver as well as gold and silver dolphin needles worn by submariners are melted into it. It also includes an eagle feather design in recognition of the indigenous people of Montana and across the country. The eagle feathers are replicas of those on the Flathead Nation Veterans Memorial at headquarters. Additional design elements include a grizzly bear and a mountainous representation of the skyline of Glacier National Park. When operational, it will fly the flag of Montana along with the flag of the United States.

Retired US Navy veteran and Mission Valley Honor Guard member Louie Blood rang the bell three times, following Navy tradition.

Retired US Navy veteran Louie Blood

Retired US Navy veteran Louie Blood solemnly rings the submarine-sized replica of the ship-sized bell aboard the cruiser USS Montana.

In a post-ceremony interview, Whitsitt said the $ 2.7 billion USS Montana, christened in September 2020, was relocated from the dry dock at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia to the James River in early October. It will undergo sea trials later this month or December to prove its seaworthiness. Along with the nickname USS Montana, the Navy fleet’s hull number is SSN-794.

“The crew is currently undergoing intensive training. You lived and worked on the USS Montana for the last year, ”Whitsitt said. “The next step is certification, then it will be put into service with the Navy.”

Whitsitt said many events are planned for the official commissioning of the USS Montana and would like to have Montana tribesmen attend the celebrations.

“We’d like them to sing a song of flag and honor live and in person before the official ceremonies,” said Whitsitt. “I want to thank the tribes; your participation is very much appreciated. I see this as a real continuation of the support and encouragement from them [Flathead Nation] and honor the other tribes [this effort]. “

USS Montana

The USS Montana is a Virginia-class nuclear submarine that is similar to this one.


The future USS MONTANA (SSN 794), christened on September 12, 2020, will be one of the most modern submarines in the world when it is commissioned in spring 2022 and will become part of the US Navy.

The USS MONTANA is a Virginia-class nuclear-powered rapid attack submarine and will have the most advanced camouflage capabilities. This will enable critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations. It will be lethal and be able to protect carrier and expeditionary attack groups, as well as hunt down and destroy enemy attack and missile submarines and surface ships.

The USS MONTANA will have the ability to precisely navigate shallower waters to get close to enemies. She will be multi-mission, capable of placing and detecting mines, launching Tomahawk cruise missiles against land targets, and deploying entire platoon-sized Navy SEAL special operations teams to dangerous areas while underwater.

Officially known as the PCU (for Pre-Commissioning Unit) MONTANA SSN 794 until commissioning, the MONTANA was christened at Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia, which means that it is ready for launch.

The completion of construction and testing on the pier side will lead to test drives in 2021-2022, with the acceptance by the Navy and commissioning expected later in spring 2022.

The crew members are on watch from the engineering department around the clock because of the fired nuclear power plant. And each of the more than 130 sailors assigned to MONTANA goes through intensive training in areas ranging from the “pilot” of the leading warship to weapon systems to the operation and maintenance of the many other systems required to maintain combat capability and crew are crucial for MONTANA for a long time “on scene, unseen”.

Once in service, the USS MONTANA is expected to serve our nation for more than three decades on a number of missions around the world.

Throughout its service life, the USS MONTANA will have the support and prayer of all Montans.


The first and only USS Montana in service was an armored cruiser (AC 13), which entered service in the US Navy in 1908. She served with honors during World War I and beyond, and was decommissioned in 1921.

Two battleships (BB 51 and BB 67), which should have been named Montana, were discontinued in 1922 and 1943, respectively. Construction on BB 51 had started and it was 27 percent complete when work on it stopped. The BB 67 was to become the lead ship of a new class of battleships, which was dismantled on Montana before construction began. As a result, Montana was the only state that didn’t have a battleship named after him.

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