US Navy Virginia Class Nuclear Attack Submarines

Discussion in 'World Armed Forces' started by Jeff Head, Nov 2, 2012.

  1. Jeff Head
    Offline

    Jeff Head General
    Staff Member Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2005
    Messages:
    24,112
    Likes Received:
    32,300
    On October 27th, 2012, the USS Minnesota, SSN-783 the 10th Viginia Class nuclear attack submarine was christened.


    The Minnesota is the sixth and last Block II Virginia class after an initial four Black I boats.


    Now, with the USS Soth Dakota, SSN-784, the Block III boats are building. Four of them are already under construction. Currently the builds for these new, modern, state of the art and cutting edge submarines includes the following:

    -------- Block I --------
    SSN-774 USS Virginia
    SSN-775 USS Texas
    SSN-776 USS Hawaii
    SSN-777 USS North Carolina
    -------- Block II -------
    SSN-778 USS New Hampshire
    SSN-779 USS New Mexico
    SSN-780 USS Missouri
    SSN-781 USS California
    SSN-782 USS Mississippi
    SSN-783 USS Minnesota
    ------- Block III -------
    SSN-784 USS North Dakota (Building)
    SSN-785 USS John Warner (Building)
    SSN-786 USS Illinois (Building)
    SSN-787 USS Washington (Building)
    SSN-788 USS Colorado (Named)
    SSN-789 USS Indiana (Named)
    SSN-790 USS South Dakota (Named)
    SSN-791 USS (Un-named) (Ordered)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Overview:
    The Virinia class nuclear attack submarines (SSN) are the latest nuclear attack submarines being built by the US Navy. They are considered the most capable, quietest, and effective nuclear attack submarines in the world, thought the United Kingdom Astute Class SSNs are very close in capabilities and quietness. Ten Virginia class have been completed thus far, including 4 Block I boats, and with the christening of the USS Minnesota, (SSN-783) on October 27, 2012, six Block II boats have also been completed.

    Four Block III boats are also building, with another three named and awaiting their turn for construction, and a fourth, SSN-791 as yet unnamed but authorized and ordered.

    These boats, all already contracted and built, building, or preparing to build, will total 18 of an envisioned class of at least 30 boats planned.

    Capabilities:
    The Virginia class nuclear attack submarines are designed for a broad range of flexible open-ocean and littoral missions. This is accomplished by carrying out the following seven mission goals as required:

    - Covert Strike by launching land-attack missiles from vertical launchers and torpedo tubes;
    - Anti-Submarine Warfare with an advanced combat system and a flexible payload of torpedoes;
    - Anti-Ship Warfare, again, using the advanced combat system and torpedoes;
    - Battle Group Support with advanced electronic sensors and communications equipment;
    - Covert Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, using sensors to collect critical intelligence and locate radar sites, missile batteries and command sites as well as to monitor communications and track ship movements;
    - Covert Minelaying against enemy shipping; and
    - Special Operations, including search and rescue, reconnaissance, sabotage, diversionary attacks, and direction of fire support and strikes.

    Originally designed as a less expensive alternative to the larger Seawolf-class attack submarines, the Virginia class is slated to replace the aging Los Angeles class subs, seventeen of which, from a total of 62 that were built, have already been decommissioned.

    The Virginia class incorporates several unique innovations. Instead of periscopes, the subs have a pair of extendable photonics masts outside the pressure hull. Each contains several high-resolution cameras with light-intensification and infrared sensors, an infrared laser rangefinder, and an integrated Electronic Support Measures (ESM) array. Signals from the mast sensors are transmitted through fiber optic links through signal processors to the control center. The subs also make use of pump-jet propulsors for quieter operations.

    An advanced electromagnetic signature reduction system built will first appear on the USS California (SSN-781). Through an advanced interfacing software system this will aloow the crew to monitor and reduce the vessels electromagnetic signatures as needed. This capability will be refitted into the earlier seven submarines of the class

    The Virginia-class is built through an industrial arrangement designed to keep both GD Electric Boat and Northrop Grumman Newport News in the submarine-building business. These two U.S. shipyards are the only two capable of building nuclear-powered submarines. Under the arrangement, the Newport News facility builds the stern, habitability & machinery spaces, torpedo room, sail and bow, while Electric Boat builds the engine room and control room. The facilities alternate working on the reactor plant as well as the final assembly, test, outfit and delivery.

    In order to rising costs and get each vessel's price down to $2 billion per submarine in FY-05 dollars, the US Navy instituted a cost-reduction program to save approximately $400 million in costs from each submarine. The project was dubbed "2 for 4 in 12," referring to the Navy's desire to buy two boats for $4 billion in FY-2012. As directed by Congress, the Navy started buying two boats a year in FY-2011. Officials were afriad that this would mean that the first two vessels would not meat the cost goals, but the program manager indicated at a conference on March 19, 2008, that the program was only $30 million away from achieving the $2 billion price goal, and would reach that target on schedule.

    Construction:
    The US Navy's total requirement is for 30 or more of the class. It placed a bulk-buy contract for the first five ships and, in January 2004, placed a multi-year contract for the following five. In December 2008, the US Navy signed a $14 billion contract with General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman, to supply eight more submarines. The contractors will deliver one submarine in each of fiscal 2009 and 2010, and two submarines on each of fiscal 2011, 2012 and 2013. These contracts will bring the Navy's Virginia-class fleet to 18 submarines.

    On 2 June 2012, the Navy christened the USS Mississippi (SSN-782), the ninth in class and the fourth of the Block II submarine. This boat was delivered months ahead of schedule and tens of millions of dollars under budget. The Block II boats are built in four sections, compared to the ten sections of the Block I boats. This increases cost saving and optimizes construction time and efficency.

    The first of class, SSN-774, USS Virginia was laid down 2 September 2000, launched 16 August 2003, and commissioned: 23 October 2004

    Second in class, SSN-775, USS Texas was laid down: 12 July 2002, launched 9 April 2005, and commissioned: 9 September 2006.

    Following this, SSN-776, USS Hawaii was commissioned 5 May 2007, SSN-777, USS North Carolina was commissioned 3 May 2008, SSN-778, USS New Hampshire was commissioned 25 October 2008, SSN-779, USS New Mexico was commissioned in January 2010 and the eigth in class, USS California, SSN-781, was commissioned in October of 2011, USS Mississippi, SSN-782, was commissioned on June 2, 2012, and USS Minnesota, SSN-783, was Christened on October 27, 2012, for commissioning in April of 2013..

    Design:
    The engineering, design and build teams at Electric Boat in partnership with the Naval Sea Systems Command, NAVSEA, of the US Navy have used extensive CAD/CAE simulation systems to optimise the design of the submarine.

    The hull structure contains structurally integrated enclosures, which accommodate standard 19in and 24in width equipment for ease of installation, repair and upgrade of the submarine's systems. The submarine is also fitted with modular isolated deck structures.

    The submarine's control suite is equipped with computer touch screens.The submarine's steering and diving control is via a four-button, two-axis joystick.

    The noise level of the Virginia is equal to that of the US Navy Seawolf, SSN 21, with a lower acoustic signature than the Russian Improved Akula Class and fourth-generation attack submarines. To achieve this, the Virginia incorporates newly designed anechoic coatings, isolated deck structures and a new design of propulsor.

    Command Systems:
    The desing of the command and control systems module has been conducted by a team led by Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems – Undersea Systems (NE&SS-US) of Manassas, Virginia. It integrates all of the vessel's systems – sensors, countermeasures, navigation, weapon control, and is based on open system architecture (OSA) with Q-70 colour common display consoles.

    Weapon control are provided by Raytheon with a derivative of the CCS mk2 combat system, the AN/BYG-1 combat control system.

    The Virginia has two mast-mounted Raytheon submarine high data rate (sub HDR) multi-band satellite communications systems that allow simultaneous communication at super high frequency (SHF) and extremely high frequency (EHF).

    Weapons System:
    All Virginia class submarines are equipped with 12 vertical launch missile tubes and four 533mm torpedo tubes. The vertical launch system has the capacity to launch 16 Tomahawk submarine-launched cruise missiles (SLCM). There is capacity for up to 26 mk48 ADCAP mod 6 heavyweight torpedoes and sub harpoon anti-ship missiles to be fired from those torpedo tubes. Mk60 CAPTOR mines may also be deployed.

    An integral lock-out/lock-in chamber is incorporated into the hull for special operations. The chamber can host a mini-submarine, such as Northrop Grumman's Oceanic and Naval Systems Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS), to deliver special warfare forces such as SEAL teams or Marine Force Recon units for counter-terrorism or localised conflict operations.

    Propulsion:
    The main propulsion unit is the GE pressure water reactor S9G, designed to last as long as the submarine, two turbine engines with one shaft and a United Defense pump jet propulser, providing 30MW (40,000HP). The submerged speed is in excess of 25kts.

    Sensors:
    The Virginia Class sonar suite provides 360 degree, total coverage. This is accomplished by including bow-mounted active and passive arrays, a stern wide aperture passive array, high-frequency active arrays on the keel and fin, TB 16 towed array and the Lockheed Martin TB-29A thinline towed array, with the AN/BQQ-10(V4) sonar processing system. A Sperry Marine AN/BPS-16(V)4 navigation radar, operating at I-band, is also fitted.

    Each submarines has two Kollmorgen AN/BVS-1 photonic masts, rather than optical periscopes. Sensors mounted on the non-hull-penetrating photonic mast include LLTV (low-light TV), thermal imager and laser rangefinder. The mast is the Universal Modular Mast developed by Kollmorgen and its Italian subsidiary, Calzoni.

    The Boeing LMRS long-term mine reconnaissance system is deployed on the Virginia Class. LMRS includes two 6m autonomous unmanned underwater vehicles, an 18m robotic recovery arm and support electronics.

    Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems is supplying the lightweight, wide-aperture array (LWWAA) system based on fibre-optic arrays, instead of traditional ceramic hydrophone sensors.

    LWWAA is a passive ASW sonar system which consists of three large array panels mounted on either side of the submarine's hull.

    Countermeasures:
    The entire Virginia Class is fitted with the AN/WLY-1 acoustic countermeasures system being developed by Northrop Grumman, which provides range and bearing data, and the mast-mounted AN/BLQ-10 electronic support measures (ESM) system from Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems.

    AN/BLQ-10 provides full spectrum radar processing, automatic threat warning and situation assessment.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    #1 Jeff Head, Nov 2, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2012
  2. Miragedriver
    Offline

    Miragedriver Brigadier

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2010
    Messages:
    8,691
    Likes Received:
    12,222
    The Germans many make the best diesel electric submarines, but no one can make nuclear submarines as fast, quiet and lethal as the US! Nuclear can never be a quiet as a diesel, but a nuclear submarine can travel to any ocean, underwater, silent and with almost unlimited endurance (food and crews nerves). This is power projection!

    What a magnificent vessel.
     
  3. Jeff Head
    Offline

    Jeff Head General
    Staff Member Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2005
    Messages:
    24,112
    Likes Received:
    32,300
    The Virginia Class will be the world class nuclear attack subs for a long time to come. They will continue building them through the 2020s and they will be operating until well after 2050.

    But, I also believe that the US should work more with its allies...the Swedes, the Germans, the British, the Spanish, Japanese, etc. and design a world class diesel electric submarine for use in the litorals. Something along the lines of the Type 212 design, maybe a little larger, but using the same modern, state of the art tehcnologies including biuilding materials. A force of 12-18 of these would be nice to augment the US Nuclear sub force.

    The US used to build very good diesel subs back during and after World War II, but they went full over to nuclear. That has not been a bad thing to date, but with the increased risk and vulnerability in the litorals, sending a large, mulit-billion dollar nuclear submarine into those shallw environs is, IMHO, not the best solution. A very good diesel electric with state of the art AIP, would be perfect to work together with the LCS vessels the US is building.

    As it is, with the new technologies and weapons and sensors, the Virginia is a capable litoral warfighter...but a very expensive one, and much larger than most adversaries it would face there.
     
    #3 Jeff Head, Nov 2, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2012
  4. Miragedriver
    Offline

    Miragedriver Brigadier

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2010
    Messages:
    8,691
    Likes Received:
    12,222
    I agree with you Jeff. The US could benefit from the use of diesel submarines, not only for littoral waters, but also in commando mission, espionage. etc…..
    It is the same argument that can be used for fast jets and coin aircraft two aircraft for different rolls. You don’t want to use a fast jet for close combat support, it will never have time to see what you are flying over, plus your placing an expensive aircraft in jeopardy from ground fire. Just like a nuclear submarine in shallow waters.
     
    Jeff Head likes this.
  5. Jeff Head
    Offline

    Jeff Head General
    Staff Member Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2005
    Messages:
    24,112
    Likes Received:
    32,300
    Well, with the capanbilities of the Virginia and the SSGN Ohios, the ability to perform SEAL and other Commando missions is fine in the US. THose vessels can carry more men and equipment and all have been desgned (redesigned in the case of the Ohio SSGNs) to carry a lot of SEALS and their equipment if necessary.

    These larger vessels can sit well off the coast and deploy the SEALS who themselves have the capabilities to get to shore from 20+ miles out, meaning the sub does not have to get in as close. They can also get in close if necessary.

    But that mission is a lot different than conducting ASW operations where you are looking for and expecting an adversary to be there in the litorals. With commando missions, you try and avoid it at all costs.

    The D/E AIPs can do commando missions very well too, but generally with a lot smaller force.
     
  6. Scratch
    Offline

    Scratch Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    Messages:
    2,116
    Likes Received:
    1,091
    I think one of the great achievements of the Virginia programs, perhaps even more important than all the new tech it introduces, is the fact that it is a large procurement program that is consistantly on track regarding costs and schedules. That really makes it a model program for the USN today.
    They also broaden the scope of capabilities beyond the traditional ASW / ASuW roles of earlier subs. With the Blk III leveraging Ohio SSGN technology, these subs can take on a wide range of missions in the future.
    And t looks like the Virginias will also lend some of their advances to the new "boomer" project, althugh the navy brass insists the SSBN(X) will be a new design and not just an evolved Virginia.
    Still plans for an "improved Virginia" to come around 2030 are already out there. Whatever those improvements will be.
     
    Jeff Head likes this.
  7. asif iqbal
    Offline

    asif iqbal Brigadier

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2006
    Messages:
    8,685
    Likes Received:
    8,756
    There is however one SSN which is world class and can go out there and turn the tides of battle, that is the Astute Class being built by BAE

    Recently a Type 45 DDG and HMS Astute did a joint excercise together and were sent far away to Asian waters there performance was second to none

    Royal Navy is getting 7 such SSN and with the resources available to BAE they have done a tremendous job

    Astutes will guard the new carriers and also get Type 45 as escort, what a carrier task force that will be
     
    Jeff Head likes this.
  8. NikeX
    Offline

    NikeX Banned Idiot

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2011
    Messages:
    530
    Likes Received:
    0
    Virginia Class subs are testing UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicle) to operate from the torpedo tubes of U.S. Navy Submarines

    [​IMG]


    (UUVs) will be fired from the torpedo tubes well in advance of a minefield and scope out exactly where the mines are. Make that the not-too-distant future because Boeing is already into a second round of at-sea tests of its Long-term Mine Reconnaissance System (LMRS). The LMRS is a 20-foot UUV designed to be launched, torpedo-style, from Los Angeles- and Virginia-class submarines and can survey the murky waters ahead for up to 60 hours. Originally planned for use in detecting tethered and bottom mines, the vehicle is designed to gather data and, upon completion, to home and dock to the submarine's 60-foot robotic arm for recovery back through the torpedo launch tube, enabling operators to retrieve data collected and prepare the vehicle for another launch. The vehicle's intelligence gathering capabilities have been sequentially tested and validated.

    Note these vehicles will be useful in detecting quiet diesel - electric submarines lurking in littorial waters without risking a mother submarine to detection and attack.
     
  9. plawolf
    Offline

    plawolf Brigadier

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2007
    Messages:
    6,066
    Likes Received:
    12,217
    Something I have always wondered about, what was wrong with the Seawolf class that required the Virginia Class to be designed and built at all?

    It seemed like the USN had a top of the line SSN in the Seawolf, but decided to cancel the whole thing and go back to the drawing board after 3 boats. That's not a decision you would take lightly, so why was such drastic and expensive action needed?
     
  10. NikeX
    Offline

    NikeX Banned Idiot

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2011
    Messages:
    530
    Likes Received:
    0
    Seawolf was over kill since the threat it had been designed for, ultra modern, ultra quiet Russian subs had gone away with the fall of the Soviet Union. The Virginia class represented a cheaper alternative with nearly the same capabilities

    "..The Seawolf design was intended to combat the threat of large numbers of advanced Soviet ballistic missile submarines such as the Typhoon class and attack submarines such as the Akula class in a deep ocean environment. Seawolf class hulls are constructed from HY-100 steel, which is stronger than the HY-80 steel employed in previous classes, in order to withstand water pressure at greater depths.[3][4] The exact diving depth of this class of boats is classified; most reputable sources vary from 1,600–2,000 feet as a likely test depth, and from 2,400–3,200 feet for collapse depth. These figures are consistent with their original design parameters and not unlikely.

    Compared to previous Los Angeles class submarines, Seawolf submarines are larger, faster, and significantly quieter; they also carry more weapons and have twice as many torpedo tubes, for a total of 8. The boats are able to carry up to 50 UGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles for attacking land and sea surface targets. As in all nuclear submarines, the load out of equipment, weapons and crew affects available excess buoyancy and thus operational parameters. The boats also have extensive equipment to allow for "littoral", or "shallow-water" operations. The class uses the more advanced ARCI Modified AN/BSY-2 combat system, which includes a new, larger spherical sonar array, a wide aperture array (WAA), and a new towed-array sonar. Each boat is powered by a single S6W nuclear reactor, delivering 45,000 hp to a low-noise pump-jet.

    As a result of their advanced design, however, Seawolf submarines were much more expensive. The projected cost for twelve submarines of this class was $33.6 billion, but after the Cold War, construction was stopped at three boats.[5]
     
    #10 NikeX, Nov 2, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2012
Loading...

Share This Page