SSN 774 Virginia
Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
23 October 2004
Also Known As: Virginia Block I
Origin: United States of America
General Dynamics Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding
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Description: The SSN 774 Virginia are the next generation US Navy (USN) nuclear-powered fast attack submarines designed to meet the 21st century submarine warfare requirements. The Virginia class ships are intended as the replacement for existing Los Angeles class attack submarines. These submarines feature advanced technologies to achieve improved firepower, maneuverability, endurance and emphasizing integrated acoustic and non-acoustic stealth. They are able to stay submerged for up to three months at a time. Powered by a nuclear pressurized water reactor (PWR) can achieve a top speed submerged of 25 knots with a maximum depth of 500 meters. The US Navy plans call for the procurement of up to 30 Virginia class submarines starting in 2004.
The submarine high data rate (Sub HDR) multi-band satellite communication (SATCOM) system is provided by Raytheon. The Sub HDR connects submarines to the above sea world by raising a mast-mounted antenna above the ocean's surface while the boat remains stealthy and submerged at periscope depth. It supports secure data, voice, multimedia, imagery and video teleconferencing via the Global Broadcast Service, the Milstar satellite constellation, and the Defense Satellite Communication System. The FORCEnet capability being inducted to existing and on order submarines allows to communicate using IP/Internet Protocol connectivity. It allows US submarine fleet to quickly and easily share and exchange information for military purposes, while submarine crew can connect to their families back home via email, web browsing, file transfer, etc.
Virginia nuclear submarines are used to seek and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships, intelligence collection, special forces delivery, and land-attack operations using Tactical Tomahawk missiles launched from 12 vertical launch system (VLS) tubes and four 533mm torpedo tubes. They perform the full-spectrum of open-ocean, blue water missions as well as littoral warfare missions. The SSN 774 Virginia class submarines goal is to maintain USN undersea superiority well into the 21st century. In addition to current torpedoes, mines and missiles these submarines will be armed with unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV). Virginia class boats can carry the Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS) underwater vehicle for special forces infiltration.
On 30 July 2004, Virginia (SSN 774) nuclear-powered attack submarine completed its first open ocean voyage, also called Alpha Sea Trials (AST). The AST included a range of submarine and propulsion plant operations, submerging for the first time, and high-speed runs on the surface and submerged, to demonstrate that the ship's propulsion plant is fully mission capable. The next test for Virginia were Bravo sea trials in August which played particular attention to the ship's underwater acoustics. The Virginia-class lead ship, SSN 774, was commissioned on Saturday, October 23, 2004, at the Norfolk Naval Base. At that time 10 submarines were under building contract of a planned 30 ships class. Only two hulls were commissioned of this Block I design.
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