Tag Archives: Virginia-class

Alpha sea trials

The nation’s newest and most advanced nuclear-powered attack submarine, USS Colorado (SSN-788), returned to the General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard Monday, August 21, following the successful completion of its first voyage in open seas, called alpha sea trials. Colorado is the 15th ship of the Virginia Class, the most capable class of attack submarines ever built. Electric Boat is a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics (GD).

Submarine Colorado completes first voyage
Submarine Colorado completes first voyage

Colorado’s alpha sea trials included a range of submarine and propulsion-plant operations, submerging for the first time, and high-speed runs on and below the surface to demonstrate that the ship’s propulsion plant is fully mission-capable.

The sea trials were directed by U.S. Navy Admiral James F. Caldwell Jr., director – Naval Nuclear Propulsion. Also participating in the sea trials were Captain Jeffrey Heydon, supervisor of shipbuilding in Groton; and Jeffrey S. Geiger, president of Electric Boat. Colorado is commanded by Commander Ken Franklin.

«The crew and shipbuilders worked as one unit to take Colorado to sea and put it through its paces», said Electric Boat President Geiger. «This required an outstanding effort by everyone involved, and demonstrates the commitment of the U.S. Navy and industry team to sustain the success of the Virginia-class submarine program. I appreciate the contributions made by the U.S. Navy personnel, shipbuilders and suppliers who made it happen».

Electric Boat and its construction teammate, Newport News Shipbuilding, already have delivered 14 Virginia-class submarines to the U.S. Navy: USS Virginia (SSN-774), USS Texas (SSN-775), USS Hawaii (SSN-776), USS North Carolina (SSN-777), USS New Hampshire (SSN-778), USS New Mexico (SSN-779), USS Missouri (SSN-780), USS California (SSN-781), USS Mississippi (SSN-782), USS Minnesota (SSN-783), USS North Dakota (SSN-784), USS John Warner (SSN-785), USS Illinois (SSN-786) and Washington (SSN-787). Fourteen more submarines of the class are under contract.

Virginia-class submarines displace 7,835 long tons/7,961 metric tons submerged, with a hull length of 377 feet/114.9 m and a diameter of 34 feet/10.4 m. They are capable of speeds in excess of 25+ knots/29+ mph/46+ km/h and can dive to a depth greater than 800+ feet/244+ m, while carrying Mark 48 advanced capability torpedoes and Tomahawk land-attack missiles.

Ship’s Crest
Ship’s Crest

 

General Characteristics

Builder General Dynamics Electric Boat Division and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. – Newport News Shipbuilding
Date Deployed October 3, 2004
Propulsion One GE PWR S9G* nuclear reactor, two turbines, one shaft; 40,000 hp/30 MW
Length 377 feet/114.9 m
Beam 33 feet/10 m
Hull Diameter 34 feet/10.4 m
Displacement Approximately 7,835 long tons/7,961 metric tons submerged
Speed 25+ knots/29+ mph/46+ km/h
Diving Depth 800+ feet/244+ m
Crew 132: 15 officers; 117 enlisted
Armament: Tomahawk missiles 12 individual VLS (Vertical Launch System) tubes or two 87-in/2.2 m Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching 6 Tomahawk cruise missiles
Armament: MK-48 ADCAP (Advanced Capability) Mod 7 heavyweight torpedoes 4 torpedo tubes
Weapons MK-60 CAPTOR (Encapsulated Torpedo) mines, advanced mobile mines and UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles)

* – Knolls Atomic Power Laboratories

 

Nuclear Submarine Lineup

 

Block III

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-784 North Dakota EB 11-2-13 10-25-14 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-785 John Warner NNS 09-06-14 08-01-15 Norfolk, Virginia
SSN-786 Illinois EB 10-10-15 10-29-16 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-787 Washington NNS 03-05-16
SSN-788 Colorado EB 12-03-16
SSN-789 Indiana NNS 04-29-17
SSN-790 South Dakota EB Under Construction
SSN-791 Delaware NNS Under Construction

 

Christening of Indiana

On April 29, Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division celebrated the christening of Indiana (SSN-789), the 16th Virginia-class submarine.

With one strong swing, Ship's Sponsor Diane Donald christened the Virginia-class submarine USS Indiana (SSN-789), witnessed by (from left) Vice President Mike Pence, Indiana Commander Jesse Zimbauer and Newport News Shipbuilding President Matt Mulherin, and an audience of nearly 4,000 event guests (Photo by Ashley Major/HII)
With one strong swing, Ship’s Sponsor Diane Donald christened the Virginia-class submarine USS Indiana (SSN-789), witnessed by (from left) Vice President Mike Pence, Indiana Commander Jesse Zimbauer and Newport News Shipbuilding President Matt Mulherin, and an audience of nearly 4,000 event guests (Photo by Ashley Major/HII)

With a single swing, ship’s sponsor Diane Donald performed the traditional honor of breaking a bottle of American sparkling wine across the submarine’s hull. Donald is the wife of Admiral Kirkland Donald (U.S. Navy, Retired), former director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion.

«It’s the honor of a lifetime to be here today», said Donald. «While the size of the submarine alone is stunning, the complexity inside sets it apart from any other machine ever built. These ships are second to none, made in America by truly remarkable Americans».

Vice President Mike Pence, former governor of Indiana, served as the ceremony’s keynote speaker. Today is the 100th day since he and President Donald Trump assumed office.

«He sent me here today on this historic occasion as a sign of his deep commitment to the Armed Forces of the United States of America, and to his commitment to make the strongest fighting force in the world even stronger still», Pence said of Trump. Speaking to the shipbuilders, he acknowledged their dedication and skill. «You have the gratitude of the commander in chief for your unwavering commitment to your country, your patriotism, your craftsmanship, and rest assured, President Trump will honor your commitment with historic investments in our national defense».

Other ceremony participants included Representative Bobby Scott, Democratic Party-Virginia; Senator Joe Donnelly, Democratic Party-Indiana; Secretary Sean Stackley, acting secretary of the Navy; Vice Admiral Joseph Tofalo, commander, Submarine Forces; Admiral Tom Fargo (U.S. Navy, Retired), chairman of the board, Huntington Ingalls Industries; Mike Petters, president and CEO, Huntington Ingalls Industries; Matt Mulherin, president, Newport News Shipbuilding; and Jeffrey Geiger, president, General Dynamics Electric Boat.

Stackley spoke of the U.S. Navy’s important presence around the world. «More than a hundred U.S. Navy ships are underway, providing assurance to our allies, maintaining persistent surveillance in regions of interest, conducting special operations undetected, safeguarding the choke points of the world, standing poised to assure access to strike if necessary, and providing humanitarian relief if needed. And all the while, Navy ships are serving as the enduring, reliable deterrent that underpins our nation’s security».

Speaking on behalf of the state of Indiana, Donnelly thanked the shipbuilders for their service to the U.S. Navy and the Indiana crew. «This crew is going to be at the very tip of the spear», he said, «and you have given them the tools, the equipment, the ability to accomplish everything».

About 4,000 Newport News shipbuilders have participated in Indiana’s construction in partnership with General Dynamics Electric Boat. Construction began in September 2012 and is about 90 percent complete. The submarine is on track to deliver to the U.S. Navy this year.

«It’s hard to describe what it’s like to build one of the most complex machines in the world», said Newport News Shipbuilding President Matt Mulherin. «For our shipbuilders who do this every day – they can even lose perspective of the contributions they are making to our Navy and to our nation. For them, it’s all part of a day’s work – a long, hard, honest day’s work. However, as you look upon this magnificent vessel, I think you’ll agree, it’s no ordinary job. In fact, it’s pretty extraordinary. Our shipbuilders define what ‘Made in America’ means».

Virginia-class submarines, a class of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines, are designed for a broad spectrum of open-ocean and littoral missions to replace the Navy’s Los Angeles-class submarines as they are retired. Virginia-class submarines incorporate dozens of new technologies and innovations that increase firepower, maneuverability and stealth, and significantly enhance their warfighting capabilities. These submarines are capable of supporting multiple mission packages and can operate at submerged speeds of more than 25+ knots/28+ mph/46.3+ km/h for months at a time.

USS Indiana (SSN-789) is Christened
USS Indiana (SSN-789) is Christened

 

General Characteristics

Builder General Dynamics Electric Boat Division and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. – Newport News Shipbuilding
Date Deployed October 3, 2004
Propulsion One GE PWR S9G* nuclear reactor, two turbines, one shaft; 40,000 hp/30 MW
Length 377 feet/114.8 m
Beam 33 feet/10.06 m
Hull Diameter 34 feet/10.36 m
Displacement Approximately 7,835 tons/7,961 metric tons submerged
Speed 25+ knots/28+ mph/46.3+ km/h
Diving Depth 800+ feet/244+ m
Crew 132: 15 officers; 117 enlisted
Armament: Tomahawk missiles 12 individual VLS (Vertical Launch System) tubes or two 87-in/2.2 m Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching 6 Tomahawk cruise missiles
Armament: MK-48 ADCAP (Advanced Capability) Mod 7 heavyweight torpedoes 4 torpedo tubes
Weapons MK-60 CAPTOR (Encapsulated Torpedo) mines, advanced mobile mines and UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles)

* – Knolls Atomic Power Laboratories

Indiana Christening Ceremony
Indiana Christening Ceremony

 

Nuclear Submarine Lineup

 

Block I

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-774 Virginia EB 8-16-03 10-23-04 Portsmouth, New Hampshire
SSN-775 Texas NNS 7-31-05 9-9-06 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
SSN-776 Hawaii EB 6-19-06 5-5-07 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
SSN-777 North Carolina NNS 4-21-07 5-3-08 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

EB – Electric Boat, Groton, Connecticut

NNS – Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia

SSN – Attack Submarine, Nuclear-powered

 

Block II

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-778 New Hampshire EB 6-21-08 10-25-08 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-779 New Mexico NNS 12-13-08 11-21-09 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-780 Missouri EB 12-5-09 7-31-10 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-781 California NNS 11-6-10 10-29-11 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-782 Mississippi EB 12-3-11 6-2-12 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-783 Minnesota NNS 10-27-12 9-7-13 Norfolk, Virginia

 

Block III

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-784 North Dakota EB 11-2-13 10-25-14 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-785 John Warner NNS 09-06-14 08-01-15 Norfolk, Virginia
SSN-786 Illinois EB 10-10-15 10-29-16 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-787 Washington NNS 03-05-16
SSN-788 Colorado EB 12-03-16
SSN-789 Indiana NNS 04-29-17
SSN-790 South Dakota EB Under Construction
SSN-791 Delaware NNS Under Construction
Huntington Ingalls Industries Christens Virginia-Class Submarine Indiana at Newport News Shipbuilding
Huntington Ingalls Industries Christens Virginia-Class Submarine Indiana at Newport News Shipbuilding

Block IV Aperture Array

Northrop Grumman Corporation has delivered the first shipset of Light Weight Wide Aperture Array (LWWAA) hardware for Block IV of the Virginia Class Submarine (VCS) to the U.S. Navy. This represents the 19th shipset that Northrop Grumman has supplied for the VCS program.

LWWAA is the only available fiber-optic passive hull mounted sensor array in the market and is critical to the operation of the U.S. Navy’s VCS fleet
LWWAA is the only available fiber-optic passive hull mounted sensor array in the market and is critical to the operation of the U.S. Navy’s VCS fleet

LWWAA is the only available fiber-optic passive hull mounted sensor array in the market and is critical to the operation of the U.S. Navy’s VCS fleet. The technology is central to the development of future generations of undersea sensors. There are six arrays in each shipset.

«LWWAA gives the Navy a distinctive edge over sensors being used by any other naval force», said Alan Lytle, vice president, undersea systems, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. «The early delivery of this first Block IV LWWAA shipset continues a tradition of 114 consecutive early array deliveries by Northrop Grumman Undersea Systems in support of the Virginia Class Submarine program».

Northrop Grumman has been delivering LWWAA panels for all VCSs, starting with the USS Virginia, SSN-774. The start of the first Block IV shipments represents the beginning of a series of 10 shipments that will be delivered at a rate of two per year to Huntington Ingalls Industries. Northrop Grumman will provide the acoustic array assemblies as well as all the hardware required to install the arrays on the exterior of the ships.

Northrop Grumman Corporation has delivered the first shipset of LWWAA hardware for Block IV of the Virginia Class Submarine to the U.S. Navy
Northrop Grumman Corporation has delivered the first shipset of LWWAA hardware for Block IV of the Virginia Class Submarine to the U.S. Navy

 

Block IV

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-792 Vermont EB Under Construction
SSN-793 Oregon EB Under Construction
SSN-794 Montana NNS Under Construction
SSN-795 Hyman G. Rickover EB On Order
SSN-796 New Jersey NNS On Order
SSN-797 Iowa EB On Order
SSN-798 Massachusetts NNS On Order
SSN-799 Idaho EB On Order
SSN-800 Arkansas NNS On Order
SSN-801 Utah EB On Order

 

Sea Ready

The Navy’s newest submarine was delivered to the U.S. Navy with nearly 100 percent on board material August 26, thanks to the collaboration between the ship’s supply department and Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Norfolk, Groton Division.

Virginia-class submarine USS Illinois (SSN-786) (GD Electric Boat Photo)
Virginia-class submarine USS Illinois (SSN-786) (GD Electric Boat Photo)

According to Assistant Division Director Lieutenant Joseph Aiello, USS Illinois (SSN-786) was delivered ahead of schedule with 99.51 percent on board material – well above the contractual requirement of 97 percent.

Behind the scenes, a small cadre of logistic specialists quietly executed the functions of outfitting and stowing the Navy’s newest submarine. The team tracked and monitored the delivery of more than 10,000 items to include all Authorized Medical Allowance List (AMAL), Authorized Dental Allowance List (ADAL), General Use Consumables List (GUCL), and Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) to the submarine.

«Beyond the hull of Illinois, the most valuable asset – the crew – was provided with dedicated support facilities to ensure training, administration and day-to-day operations of the command continued unencumbered by the construction», said Aiello.

NAVSUP FLC Norfolk, Groton Division is a relatively small unit comprised of 19 civilian and military personnel.

«The single aspect that, to me, is most inspiring about the organization is the sheer dedication to the Sailors on the waterfront and the true collaborative nature that is fostered across the spectrum of organizations at the shipyard», said Aiello.

According to Aiello, collaboration between civilian employees and military staff is a noted organizational strength of the unit.

«While a good segment of the team have prior military experience, those who do not have demonstrated the same commitment to excellence and truly understand the need for flawless customer support», he added.

USS Illinois (SSN-786), which is the 13th submarine in the Virginia class, is scheduled to be commissioned October 29.

 

General Characteristics

Builder General Dynamics Electric Boat Division and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. – Newport News Shipbuilding
Date Deployed October 3, 2004
Propulsion One GE PWR S9G* nuclear reactor, two turbines, one shaft; 40,000 hp/30 MW
Length 377 feet/114.8 m
Beam 33 feet/10.06 m
Hull Diameter 34 feet/10.36 m
Displacement Approximately 7,835 tons/7,961 metric tons submerged
Speed 25+ knots/28+ mph/46.3+ km/h
Diving Depth 800+ feet/244+ m
Crew 132: 15 officers; 117 enlisted
Armament: Tomahawk missiles 12 individual VLS (Vertical Launch System) tubes or two 87-in/2.2 m Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching 6 Tomahawk cruise missiles
Armament: MK-48 ADCAP (Advanced Capability) Mod 7 heavyweight torpedoes 4 torpedo tubes
Weapons MK-60 CAPTOR (Encapsulated Torpedo) mines, advanced mobile mines and UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles)

* – Knolls Atomic Power Laboratories

 

Nuclear Submarine Lineup

 

Block I

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-774 Virginia EB 8-16-03 10-23-04 Portsmouth, New Hampshire
SSN-775 Texas NNS 7-31-05 9-9-06 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
SSN-776 Hawaii EB 6-19-06 5-5-07 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
SSN-777 North Carolina NNS 4-21-07 5-3-08 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

EB – Electric Boat, Groton, Connecticut

NNS – Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia

SSN – Attack Submarine, Nuclear-powered

 

Block II

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-778 New Hampshire EB 6-21-08 10-25-08 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-779 New Mexico NNS 12-13-08 11-21-09 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-780 Missouri EB 12-5-09 7-31-10 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-781 California NNS 11-6-10 10-29-11 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-782 Mississippi EB 12-3-11 6-2-12 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-783 Minnesota NNS 10-27-12 9-7-13 Norfolk, Virginia

 

Block III

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-784 North Dakota EB 11-2-13 10-25-14 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-785 John Warner NNS 09-06-14 08-01-15 Norfolk, Virginia
SSN-786 Illinois EB 10-10-15 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-787 Washington NNS 03-05-16
SSN-788 Colorado EB Under Construction
SSN-789 Indiana NNS Under Construction
SSN-790 South Dakota EB Under Construction
SSN-791 Delaware NNS Under Construction

 

Pressure Hull Complete

Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) announced on August 9 that its Newport News Shipbuilding division has reached a major milestone in the construction of the submarine USS Indiana (SSN-789). The 16th Virginia-class submarine has reached «pressure hull complete», signifying that all of its hull sections are joined to form a single, watertight unit.

USS Indiana (SSN-789), the 16th Virginia-class submarine, has reached «pressure hull complete», signifying that all of its hull sections are joined to form a single, watertight unit (Photo by Chris Oxley)
USS Indiana (SSN-789), the 16th Virginia-class submarine, has reached «pressure hull complete», signifying that all of its hull sections are joined to form a single, watertight unit (Photo by Chris Oxley)

Ship’s Sponsor Diane Donald, wife of Admiral Kirk Donald (U.S. Navy, Ret.), and Ray Shearer, chairman of Indiana’s commissioning committee, visited the shipyard to see the progress being made on the submarine and meet with its crew.

«Witnessing Indiana come to life is one of the most gratifying experiences of my life», Mrs. Donald said. «The countless hours of hard work the shipbuilders have put into constructing and perfecting this boat is apparent, as Indiana has now taken on the shape of a submarine. I also had the pleasure of spending time with the ship’s crew. As the wife of a submariner, it’s been a real honor getting to know a new generation of sailors and witnessing their enthusiasm and dedicated service to our nation. As Indiana moves closer to joining the Navy’s fleet next year, I look forward to continuing to share this journey with her shipbuilders and crew members».

Pressure hull complete is the last major milestone before the submarine’s christening. Construction began in September 2012 under a teaming agreement between Newport News and General Dynamics Electric Boat. The submarine is about 82 percent complete and is scheduled for delivery to the Navy in the third quarter of 2017.

«We are on track to meet our budget and schedule commitments to the Navy, and I’m proud of the progress that the Newport News Shipbuilding-General Dynamics Electric Boat team is making», said Jim Hughes, Newport News’ vice president, submarines and fleet support. «Our progress demonstrates the efficiency of the Navy’s two-per-year build plan, which helps ensure America’s undersea superiority».

Commander Jesse J. Zimbauer, Indiana’s commanding officer, said, «Newport News Shipbuilding has completed the pressure hull on time for the Indiana, continuing the momentum of the Navy’s most successful build program and moving us another step closer to taking our submarine to sea».

Virginia-class submarine USS Illinois (SSN-786) (GD Electric Boat Photo)
Virginia-class submarine USS Illinois (SSN-786) (GD Electric Boat Photo)

 

General Characteristics

Builder General Dynamics Electric Boat Division and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. – Newport News Shipbuilding
Date Deployed October 3, 2004
Propulsion One GE PWR S9G* nuclear reactor, two turbines, one shaft; 40,000 hp/30 MW
Length 377 feet/114.8 m
Beam 33 feet/10.06 m
Hull Diameter 34 feet/10.36 m
Displacement Approximately 7,835 tons/7,961 metric tons submerged
Speed 25+ knots/28+ mph/46.3+ km/h
Diving Depth 800+ feet/244+ m
Crew 132: 15 officers; 117 enlisted
Armament: Tomahawk missiles 12 individual VLS (Vertical Launch System) tubes or two 87-in/2.2 m Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching 6 Tomahawk cruise missiles
Armament: MK-48 ADCAP (Advanced Capability) Mod 7 heavyweight torpedoes 4 torpedo tubes
Weapons MK-60 CAPTOR (Encapsulated Torpedo) mines, advanced mobile mines and UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles)

* – Knolls Atomic Power Laboratories

 

Nuclear Submarine Lineup

 

Block I

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-774 Virginia EB 8-16-03 10-23-04 Portsmouth, New Hampshire
SSN-775 Texas NNS 7-31-05 9-9-06 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
SSN-776 Hawaii EB 6-19-06 5-5-07 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
SSN-777 North Carolina NNS 4-21-07 5-3-08 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

EB – Electric Boat, Groton, Connecticut

NNS – Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia

SSN – Attack Submarine, Nuclear-powered

 

Block II

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-778 New Hampshire EB 6-21-08 10-25-08 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-779 New Mexico NNS 12-13-08 11-21-09 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-780 Missouri EB 12-5-09 7-31-10 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-781 California NNS 11-6-10 10-29-11 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-782 Mississippi EB 12-3-11 6-2-12 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-783 Minnesota NNS 10-27-12 9-7-13 Norfolk, Virginia

 

Block III

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-784 North Dakota EB 11-2-13 10-25-14 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-785 John Warner NNS 09-06-14 08-01-15 Norfolk, Virginia
SSN-786 Illinois EB 10-10-15
SSN-787 Washington NNS 03-05-16
SSN-788 Colorado EB Under Construction
SSN-789 Indiana NNS Under Construction
SSN-790 South Dakota EB Under Construction
SSN-791 Delaware NNS Under Construction

 

Keel for Indiana

The keel of the 16th Virginia-class attack submarine, named after the 16th largest state, was laid May 16 at Newport News Shipyard. She is the third ship to bear the name Indiana, and will be the first in almost 70 years to sail under the national colors with that name. It is said in the Navy Times that the ship’s sponsor, Diane Donald, the wife of retired Admiral Kirk Donald, a former director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion, declared the keel «to be truly and fairly laid». Diane Donald authenticated the keel with her initials, which were welded onto a metal plate and permanently affixed to the ship.

Heather Johnson, a 37-year-old mother of four, has the honor of being the first female welder at Newport News Shipbuilding to weld the sponsor's initials on a Virginia-class submarine (Photo by John Whalen/HII)
Heather Johnson, a 37-year-old mother of four, has the honor of being the first female welder at Newport News Shipbuilding to weld the sponsor’s initials on a Virginia-class submarine (Photo by John Whalen/HII)

Construction on Indiana, the sixth of eight Block III variants, started in September 2012. The state is known as «the crossroads of America», and its namesake honors that motto well. She carries millions of parts from 5,000 suppliers located in all 50 states. Assembling these parts is what Jim Hughes, vice president for Submarines and Fleet Support, called «one of the biggest orchestras in the world». The symphony carefully played by 4,000 shipbuilders will now unite hull sections into a 377-foot/114.8 m military masterpiece that will crescendo with its 2017 commissioning, then slip into three decades of silent service.

Her missions will be many and multifaceted. The Virginia class has a large lock-in/lock-out chamber, and a reconfigurable torpedo room to accommodate more snake eaters. She will carry roughly three dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles. Traditional periscopes have been replaced by photonics masts with high-resolution cameras and infrared sensors. A fly-by-wire ship control system provides unmatched operation in shallow littoral areas.

A shipbuilder on a lift works on the stern unit of Indiana (SSN-789) at Newport News Shipbuilding in 2013 (Photo by Ricky Thompson/HII)
A shipbuilder on a lift works on the stern unit of Indiana (SSN-789) at Newport News Shipbuilding in 2013 (Photo by Ricky Thompson/HII)

While the Virginia class boasts these and other upgrades in weaponry and other tactical equipment, its biggest edge is in acoustics, said Commander Jesse Zimbauer, the ship’s skipper. Among its many advances, the Block III variant vastly improved passive detection by replacing the traditional sonar sphere with the Large Aperture Bow array. «We are building the future with this submarine», said Jesse Zimbauer, who «jumped on the opportunity» to be part of the pre-commissioning unit.

A keel laying is the symbolic beginning of building a ship, originating from the large structural beam, or keel, that serves as the foundation or spine of the ship’s hull. Although modular construction techniques mean that the ship is no longer built from the bottom up, the keel laying is still celebrated as a momentous event in the ship’s construction. During the keel laying ceremony, the ship’s sponsor authenticates the keel by chalking her initials onto a metal plate. The initials are then welded onto a plate that is permanently affixed to the ship.

Diane Donald, the Indiana's sponsor, looks over her initials on a steel plate held by welder Heather Johnson of Newport News Shipbuilding
Diane Donald, the Indiana’s sponsor, looks over her initials on a steel plate held by welder Heather Johnson of Newport News Shipbuilding

 

INDIANA (SSN-789) FACTS

  • Navy names SSN-789 in honor of the state of Indiana: April 13, 2012
  • Construction start: September 2012
  • Keel Authentication Ceremony: May 16, 2015
  • Ship’s sponsor: Ms. Diane Donald, wife of retired Admiral Kirk Donald
  • Number of NNS shipbuilders who support Indiana construction: 4,000
  • Officers and Crew: Currently, 57; At delivery 135; Commanded by Jesse Zimbauer
  • Indiana is about 48 percent complete and is on track to complete in summer 2017
  • Indiana is the 16th ship of the Virginia class
A unit for the Virginia-class submarine South Dakota (SSN-790) under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding in 2014 (Photo by Chris Oxley)
A unit for the Virginia-class submarine South Dakota (SSN-790) under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding in 2014 (Photo by Chris Oxley)

 

General Characteristics

Builder General Dynamics Electric Boat Division and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. – Newport News Shipbuilding
Date Deployed October 3, 2004
Propulsion One S9G* nuclear reactor, one shaft
Length 377 feet/114.8 m
Beam 33 feet/10.0584 m
Hull Diameter 34 feet/10.5156 m
Displacement Approximately 7,800 tons/7,925 metric tons submerged
Speed 25+ knots/28+ mph/46.3+ km/h
Diving Depth 800+ feet/244+ m
Crew 132: 15 officers; 117 enlisted
Armament: Tomahawk missiles 12 individual VLS (Vertical Launch System) tubes or two 87-in/2.2 m Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching 6 Tomahawk cruise missiles
Armament: MK-48 ADCAP (Advanced Capability) Mod 7 heavyweight torpedoes 4 torpedo tubes
Weapons MK-60 CAPTOR (Encapsulated Torpedo) mines, advanced mobile mines and UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles)

* – Knolls Atomic Power Laboratories

A panorama of the shipyard shows the bow unit of Illinois (SSN-786) being moved to the sea shuttle (right) June 24, 2014. Illinois is being delivered to the Navy by General Dynamics Electric Boat (Photo by Chris Oxley/HII)
A panorama of the shipyard shows the bow unit of Illinois (SSN-786) being moved to the sea shuttle (right) June 24, 2014. Illinois is being delivered to the Navy by General Dynamics Electric Boat (Photo by Chris Oxley/HII)