Navy Receives First Block III Virginia-Class Submarine

Navy Receives First Block III Virginia-Class Submarine

The Navy officially accepted delivery of the USS North Dakota on Aug. 29, signalling the arrival of a new high-tech fast attack submarine equipped with improved missile tubes, computers, electronics and sonar technology.

Christened in November, the USS North Dakota will be the first of eight Block III Virginia-class boats delivered to the Navy, submarines engineered with a series of technological upgrades and innovations compared to earlier Blocks I and II boats, Navy officials said.

Blocks I and II, totaling 10 ships, have already been delivered to the Navy. All eight Block III boats are being built under a $14 billion Navy deal with General Dynamics’ Electric Boat from December of 2008.

The Block III subs are built with new so-called Virginia Payload Tubes designed to lower costs and increase missile-firing payload possibilities, Navy officials explained.

Instead of building what most existing Virginia-classsubmarines have — 12 individual 21-inch in diameter vertical launch tubes able to fire Tomahawk missiles — the Block III submarines are being built with two-larger 87-inch diameter tubes able to house six Tomahawk missiles each.

While primarily done to lower costs for the boat, this technical change will allow the possibility of future missiles and off-board sensors to be launched from the tubes, Navy officials said.

“North Dakota delivered ahead of schedule and under budget,” Capt. David Goggins, Virginia Class program manager, said in a written statement. “When one considers the scope of design changes, this represents a tremendous achievement.”

All Virginia-class submarines are also engineered with a computerized fly-by-wire touchscreen control system wherein boat operators use a joystick to navigate, unlike the mechanical hydraulic controls used on prior models.

The Block IIIboats also have a Large Aperture Bow array which places a conformal sonar system in the bow of the boat, Navy officials said.

“The LAB array provides improved passive listening capabilities over traditional spherical arrays employed on earlier submarines,” Rear Adm. Joseph Tofalo, director of undersea warfare, said in a written statement. “The LAB array includes a medium-frequency active array. The hydrophones used to determine a bearing of either incoming passive sounds or active reflected sounds are taken directly from previous design and technology advancements.”

Navy officials said that the North Dakota successfully completed Alpha, Bravo, and Board of Inspection and Survey trials, assessments which evaluate the submarine’s seaworthiness and operational capabilities. During the trials, the crew took the submarine to test depth, conducted an emergency surfacing, and tested the submarine’s propulsion plant, service officials said.

“North Dakota and her crew delivered an outstanding performance,” Program Executive Officer for Submarines Rear Adm. David C. Johnson said in a written statement.  “It was almost 10 years ago that the first ship of the class, USS Virginia delivered on Oct. 12, 2004. Since then, this program has delivered 10 ships, with North Dakota the latest. We continue to meet the Virginia Class standard of delivering submarines early, under cost, more complete and ready for tasking right out of the shipyard. North Dakota set a new benchmark for excellence in what is the arguably the best performing program in defense acquisition.”

The Navy postponed North Dakota’s original May commissioning date because of quality issues with vendor-assembled and delivered components that required an unplanned dry-docking to correct. Additional design certification work was also required on the submarine’s redesigned bow, a Navy statement said.

“Now that certifications are complete, and we’re armed with lessons learned,” said Goggins, “we can move forward knowing that we are providing our fleet with the most capable, and battle-ready submarine possible.”

The North Dakota is slated for commissioning on Oct. 25 in Groton, Connecticut.

Tags: ,

Join the Conversation

The bubbleheads are building kick ass subs ahead of schedule and under budget,

but on the other hand,

The black shoes are building the Large Cruise Ships (LCS) that are extraordinarily expensive and incompetent and
The brown shoes are shoveling money into the Black Hole (F-35) just as fast as they can shovel and the Corp is helping them do it!

At least 1/3 of the Navy still can do things right

So is it also a nuclear attack sub?

That’s what it is. What are you thinking it also is?

@Big-Dean: You’re kidding right? The Lace Cruise Ship may be fragile but it ain’t big.

Wow. A fast attack USS North Dakota. Maybe the crew can TDY to the 91 Missile Wing in Minot AFD, ND?

With submarines, building it right is probably more important than budget. Subsafe and all that. Thresher and Scorpion will be remembered (and the Kursk, poor Russians).

They actually built a submarine and no one is calling for the program to be cancelled? Where’s the outrage? Where are all the instant experts ready to drive a stake through the heart of this monstrosity? Wow, it’s almost as if with submarines there’s no large influential corporation out there with a vested interest in doing one development program after another while producing absolutely zero weapons.

So they can instruct them on… torpedo handling? How to amuse themselves while deep under the surface for a prolonged period of time? Throw us a bone here. It’s not as is the SSNs haul a lot of nuclear weapons these days.

I’m glad their making progress with the Block III, the new module holding the cruise missiles will let them be able to do more.

It should also be mentioned that currently under development is a mini-SSGN plug that is to be included aft of the sail in Virginia Block V. Less than half of the additional length will be used to add 4 more large diameter Virginia payload tubes similar to the two currently being included in the revised bow of Block III, for a total of 6 tubes carrying up to a total of 36 T-LAMs in VLS on each block V submarine. And then there is also that other interesting half of the Block V plug.

The four Ohio class converted SSGN have 22 large diameter payload tubes each, and each of those tubes can carry up to 7 T-LAMs, for up to 154 T-LAMs in VLS on each submarine, up to 616 in all four subs total.

USS Ohio being the lead sub in the class of SSBNs was also the first of those SSBNs to go thru refueling and major overhaul at mid-life. It was during mid-life refueling and major overhaul that the conversion from SSBN to SSGN was made, for the first 4 subs in the class, reducing the number of Ohio Trident SSBNs from 18 to 14 while also creating the 4 new SSGN.

The reduction in SSBN was forced by arms reduction treaty. China was not a party to that treaty and is building subs.

USS Ohio reaches end of useful life as an active submarine before the end of the next decade, and the other 3 SSGN follow closely behind. Navy would need 36/616=17.1, would need more than 17 Virginia Block V to put as many T-LAM in VLS in those much smaller submarines to replace the VLS capacity that they will lose when they deactivate the four large converted Ohio SSGN.


ok, “Little Cruise Ship” LOL

The same VLS dump-truck mission can be performed by surface ships…if ever procured enough, or if we figure out a way to turn the reserve fleet into VLS launchers.

My guess is that for the submersible VLS strikes so long as we have /enough/ to strike effectively and enable the use of the cheaper, larger VLS delivery platforms we’ll be fine. But it is mighty sad to pass up 154 VLS tubes in a high-speed, underwater delivery platform…

I’m amazed they don’t sabotage construction and then argue it’s time for a Next-Generation-Sub called the SSN-X or whatnot, or SSN-NG or whatever powerpoint whizbang acronym is trending.

This program works because the contractor’s name is NOT “Lockhead Martin” AND it’s not being ran by the air force

Well, to be truthful, when you start with a program billions over budget, it is much easier to make improvements. The Virginia class was supposed to be cheaper than a Seawolf (which it is finally achieving) and is still way more expensive than the hopelessly optimistic projections.

Right, because Boeing only runs successful programs that come in on time and on budget. This is Big Dean’s idea of the perfect contractor: http://​en​.wikipedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​B​o​e​i​n​g​_​X​-​3​2​#​m​e​d​i​a​vie… According to him, Boeing didn’t lie about the X-32 not being able to take off vertically, they actually did think they could build an airplane so ugly the earth itself would repel it.

It’s odd that the Navy can’t learn any good lessons from programs that work and apply those to the those that don’t.

SSBN-X might actrually be a modified Virgina Class with 4 or eight tubes located aft the sail.

Got a couple of buddies serving on the LCS and as far as they are concerned LCS stands for Little Crappy Ship. They also joke that they get issued a special set of coveralls with a flap that opens up in the back. This is so when they get into combat, they can open the flap and kiss their keesters goodbye. :)

oh man ;-( But I’m also sure no admiral’s daughter is serving on one

you’re the only one talking about Boeing Dfens, oh fyi, Boeing doesn’t build subs, perhaps you need to lay on on you couch and take a few more inhale of your weed, or excuse me, your “medicine”

But the Air Force does “build subs?”

To air farce …Trident 24 missiles 10 warheads each(?) MRV’s = 240 x 10 boats. Put that in your silo and do not lose the missiles and or bombs. USN Ret.

I would bet that the reason for the larger tube is that it will in the future be able to launch an ICBM in place of 6 Tomahawks.

In my 18 year TRW-career, I helped design one of the successful aspects of the Virginia SSN when it was known as the NSSN (Cost Concept Design Phase). Before I became a TRW Engineer, I had a 25-year USAF career. I’m proud of both; I salute all those who endeavor daily to provide the best military systems/equipment possible and our military who end up with them.


NOTE: Comments are limited to 2500 characters and spaces.

By commenting on this topic you agree to the terms and conditions of our User Agreement

AdChoices | Like us on , follow us on and join us on Google+
© 2015 Military Advantage
A Monster Company.