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USS South Dakota

The Virginia-class attack submarine Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) South Dakota (SSN 790) transits the Thames River at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut. South Dakota is the 17th Virginia-class, fast-attack submarine and is scheduled to be commissioned Feb. 2, 2019. 

A custom-made motorcycle is in New London, Conn., to help kick off the commissioning of a new Navy attack submarine.

The 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Glide motorcycle pays homage to both the attack submarine USS South Dakota, which will be commissioned in Groton on Saturday, and the battleship USS South Dakota — one of the most decorated battleships of World War II.

The bike was on display Thursday night at the official kickoff event for the commissioning.

The event drew a crowd of about 700, including the crew of the South Dakota. Harley-Davidson donated the bike and plans to keep it in shape for the next 30 years.

Eventually, officials plan to place the bike in a South Dakota museum for permanent display.

According to a news release from the Navy Office of Community Outreach, South Dakota's U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds will be the principal speaker during Saturday's commissioning, which starts at 9 a.m. at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn. 

USS South Dakota is the third ship to bear the state's name. The first was an armored cruiser commissioned Jan. 27, 1908, before being renamed Huron on June 7, 1920. It was decommissioned on June 17, 1927.

The second ship was a battleship commissioned March 20, 1942, that served in important World War II battles like Santa Cruz, Guadalcanal, Philippine Sea and Okinawa and won 13 battle stars over the course of the war. South Dakota was present at Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered. It was placed out of commission Jan. 31, 1947.

A Virginia-class submarine designated SSN 790, USS South Dakota is built for stealth, endurance, mobility and firepower, according to the news release. It can operate in littoral (close to the shore) and deep waters while conducting anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface ship warfare; strike warfare; special operation forces support; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions. 

Saturday's ceremony can be viewed online at

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— The Associated Press contributed to this report

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