Almost 20 years ago, in October 2004, the first Virginia-class multipurpose nuclear submarine entered service with the US Navy – the USS Virginia. And to this day, the construction of this class of submarines is continuing.
Virginia class submarine, or SSN-774 class, is a class of nuclear-powered cruise missile fast-attack submarines built by the US Navy to deal with threats after the Cold War. According to the original plan, the US Navy will build more than 30 submarines of this class to replace the older Los Angeles class.
The US Navy was particularly interested in this class of submarines, and due to its strong tactical features, they developed the Virginia class to the 5th generation Block V. There is no doubt that this number will increase further, it is reported that around 50 Virginia class submarines will be built.
The Virginia class submarines have displacement of 7,900 tons, length of 115m, and beam of 10m. It possesses the design of a typical modern submarine, with a tubular shape. The tower is conveniently positioned forward and is home to a digital multi-function masts as well as communication and navigation systems while the built-in night vision and infrared camera help expand tactical flexibility. The Virginia class submarine has a built-in pressure chamber for the deployment of special forces personnel. A SEAL Team minisub can be carried along the dorsal spine aft of the sail.
The Virginia class submarines incorporate newly designed anechoic coating, isolated deck structures and new design of propulsor to achieve low acoustic signature. It is claimed that noise level of the Virginia is equal to that of the Seawolf class.
The Virginia-class propulsion system is powered by a S9G-series nuclear reactor, producing 40,000 horsepower (30 MW). The submarine can reach a top speed of 29 knots. She is crewed by 15 officers and 117 enlisted personnel.
In contrast to a traditional bladed propeller, the Virginia class uses pump-jet propulsors. The propulsor significantly reduces the risks of cavitation, and allows quieter operation.
Virginia class submarines are equipped with 12 VLS tubes, which can launch 16 submarine-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles. These missiles have a range of 700 km and are used to attack ships and land targets. In addition the Virginia class also has four 533 mm torpedo tubes. These are used to fire a total of 26 Mk.48 heavyweight torpedoes and Sub Harpoon anti-ship missiles. Smart mines can be used in place of torpedoes.
Block V-generation submarines will receive an additional missile compartment. The new 21m section of the hull will house four Virginia Payload Modules. Each of these modules can accommodate seven Tomahawk missiles or some other target load.
|Type:||Nuclear attack submarine|
|Displacement:||Submerged: 7,900 metric tons (8,700 short tons)|
|Length:||377 ft (115 m)|
|Beam:||34 ft (10 m)|
|Propulsion:||S9G reactor 40,000 shp (30 MW)|
|Speed:||25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph) or over|
|Endurance:||Only limited by food and maintenance requirements.|
|Test depth:||+800 ft (240 m)|
|Complement:||135 (15 officers; 120 enlisted)|
|Armament:||Block I–IV: 12 × VLS (Tomahawk BGM-109) tubes 4 × 533 mm torpedo tubes (Mk-48 torpedo), RGM-84 Harpoon 25 × torpedoes & missiles (torpedo room) + 12 x missiles (VLS tubes) Block V: VPM module (28 Tomahawk BGM-109) 12 × VLS (Tomahawk BGM-109) tubes 4 × 533 mm torpedo tubes (Mk-48 torpedo), RGM-84 Harpoon 65 × torpedoes & missiles|