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About the Virginia Class Submarines

Stealth, Endurance, and Agility Under the Sea

Designed by Electric Boat, the Virginia-class is being built jointly under a teaming arrangement between Electric Boat and Northrop Grumman Newport News in Virginia. In 1998, the U.S. Navy awarded a $4.2 billion contract for the construction of the first four ships of the class. Virginia is the first of these. Displacing approximately 7,800 tons with a length of 370 feet, Virginia is longer but lighter than the previous Seawolf-class of submarines.

The 132-member crew can launch Tomahawk land-attack missiles from 12 vertical launch system tubes and Mark 48 advanced capability torpedoes from four 21-inch torpedo tubes.

Virginia will be able to attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters or other sea forces. Other missions Virginia will conduct include anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare, special forces delivery and support, and mine delivery and minefield mapping. With enhanced communications connectivity, Virginia also will provide important battle group and joint task force support, with full integration into carrier battle group operations.

The Virginia-class of attack submaries surpasses the performance of any current projected threat submarine, ensuring U.S. undersea dominance well into the next century. The Virginia class (or SSN-774 class) of attack submarines are the first U.S. subs to be designed for a broad spectrum of open-ocean and littoral missions around the world. They were designed as a cheaper alternative to the Cold War era Seawolf-class attack submarines, and are slated to replace aging Los Angeles class subs, seventeen of which have already been decommissioned.


The Virginias incorporate several 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 masts' sensors are transmitted through fiber optic data lines through signal processors to the control center. The subs also make use of pump-jet propulsors for quieter operations.

For additional information on Virginia-class submarines, visit the Navy's fact file website.

On December 22, 2008, the Navy awarded a new $14B contract to the GDEB/NGC team for eight more VA-class subs, the first of which will be NORTH DAKOTA. Beginning in 2011, the Navy will double the current production rate by building two subs per year. The new contract calls for construction times of 60 months and costs to be held at $2B each (in 2005 dollars).

On 21 June 2008, the Navy christened the New Hampshire (SSN-778), the first of the Block II boats. The submarine was delivered 8 months ahead of schedule and $54 million underbudget.[8] The Block II boats are built in four sections, compared to the ten sections of Block I boats. This enables a cost savings of $300 million per boat, reducing the cost to $2 billion per boat and the construction of two boats per year. Beginning in 2010, new vessels of the class will include a software system that can monitor and reduce EM signatures when needed.


Block I

    USS Virginia (SSN-774), commissioned and in service.
    USS Texas (SSN-775), commissioned and in service.
    USS Hawaii (SSN-776), commissioned and in service.
    USS North Carolina (SSN-777), commissioned and in service.

Block II

Block III