Virginia Block III
Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
25 October 2014
Also Known As: SSN 784 USS North Dakota
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.
The USS North Dakota (SSN 784) scheduled for commissioning on 25 October 2014 in Groton is the first ship featuring a re-designed bow section to allow larger, more versatile weapons tubes under the Block III program. The USS North Dakota is the 11th ship of the Virginia class and the first Block III boat. The Virginia Block III submarines embody an industry commitment to reduce costs without decreasing capabilities through an initiative comprising a multi-year procurement strategy, improvements in construction practices and the Design For Affordability (DFA) program. The US Navy's plans call for the commissioning eight ships between 2014 and 2019.
The DFA program focuses primarily on the redesign of the submarine's bow, lowering program costs by $800 million, increasing capability and providing the capacity for additional growth at no additional cost. This redesign replaces a sonar sphere with a Large Aperture Bow (LAB) Array and the 12 individual vertical-launch missile tubes with two Virginia payload tubes (VPTs), which will each initially carry six missiles in multiple all-up round canisters. The new LAB Array eliminates hundreds of hull penetrations and replaces transducers with lower cost, life-of-the-ship hydrophones. By nearly doubling the payload space available from 1,200 cubic feet with the 12 vertical launch tubes to 2,300 cubic feet, the VPTs will enable Virginia-class ships to deploy a wider variety of payloads.
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