for Submariners

by Hamilton 1:1 Communications, LLC

  Virginia Class
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SSN-774 Virginia-class (SSN New Attack Submarine)


The Secretary of Defense in his October 1993 bottom-up review determined that production of the Seawolf class submarine would cease with the third submarine, and that the Navy should develop and build a new attack submarine as a more cost-effective follow-on to the Seawolf class, with construction beginning in fiscal year 1998 or 1999 at Electric Boat. The New Attack Submarine is the first U.S. submarine to be designed for battle-space dominance across a broad spectrum of regional and littoral missions as well as open-ocean, "blue water" missions. The program design goal is to produce a submarine flexible enough to carry out seven very different missions:

  • 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 Mine-laying against enemy shipping; and
  • Special Operations, including; search and rescue, reconnaissance, sabotage, diversionary attacks, and direction of fire support and strikes.

The Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I) electronics packages promote maximum flexibility for growth and upgrade. Coupled with the Modular Isolated Deck Structure (MIDS) and open-system architecture, this approach results in a lower cost and effective, command and control structure for fire control, navigation, electronic warfare, and communications connectivity.

The New Attack Submarine's sonar system is state-of-the-art and has more processing power than today's entire submarine fleet combined to process and distribute data received from its spherical bow array, high-frequency array suite, dual towed arrays, and flank array suite.

The New Attack Submarine's sail configuration houses two new photonics masts for improved imaging functions, and improved electronics support measures mast, and multi-mission masts that cover the frequency domain for full-spectrum, high data-rate communications. The sail is also designed for future installation of a special mission-configurable mast for enhanced flexibility and war-fighting performance.

The VIRGINIA Class submarine program has been designed with long-term technological innovation in mind. The built-in flexibility of VIRGINIA, including incorporation of modular design techniques, open architecture, and COTS components, allows for technological insertion and innovation. As an example of the flexibility inherent in the design of VIRGINIA, the Navy anticipates placing an advanced sail on hulls 5-6 of the VIRGINIA Class. The new sail shape and size might well provide the required volume for advanced future payloads.

The New Attack Submarine also features an integral Lock-Out/Lock-In chamber for special operations and can host Special Operations Forces' underwater delivery vehicles.

In December 1996, Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding proposed to construct New Attack Submarines as a team, rather than as competitors. This was consistent with the Congressional direction to involve both nuclear submarine shipbuilders; to foster cooperation between the shipbuilders on both construction and design improvements; and to facilitate the cross pollination of knowledge and the insertion of advanced technology. Both shipbuilders would use Electric Boat's digital design database to construct New Attack Submarines and each shipbuilder would specialize in certain assemblies, thereby approaching single learning curve efficiencies. Both would initially deliver alternating ships with Electric Boat delivering the lead fiscal year 1998 submarine.

The fiscal year 1997 budget requested $296 million for the design and component construction of the first New Attack Submarine in fiscal year 1998. As allowed by the fiscal year 1996 Department of Defense Authorization Act, the funding required to finance construction of the fiscal years 1999 and 2001 submarines, which would include $504 million in fiscal year 1997, was not included in the President's FY97 Budget request. The Navy's budget request for fiscal year 1998 was premised upon having the two shipyards team to produce, not only the first four NASs, beginning construction in fiscal years 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2002 respectively, but all NASs thereafter.

The existing DOD guidance calls for a force of 50 attack submarines, although some studies have called for raising the number of subs to as many as 72. Existing plans are sufficient to meet the goal of 50 boats, although higher numbers would require modification to these plans.


General Dynamics, Electric Boat Division [lead design authority]
Newport News Shipbuilding
Lockheed Martin Federal Systems (Combat System)
Raytheon Electronics Systems (Combat System)
Power Plant:
One S9G PWR??,000 shp,
One shaft with pumpjet propulsor,
Improved Performance Machinery Program Phase III,
One secondary propulsion submerged motor.
7,800 tons submerged
377 feet
32 feet
34 feet
25+ knots submerged
Greater than 800 feet
Horizontal Tubes:
Four 21" Torpedo Tubes
Vertical Tubes:
12 Vertical Launch System Tubes
38 weapons, including:
Vertical Launch System Tomahawk Cruise Missiles,
MK 48 ADCAP Heavyweight Torpedoes,
Advanced Mobile Mines,
Unmanned Undersea Vehicles.
Special Warfare
Dry Deck Shelter Advanced SEAL Delivery System
Spherical active/passive arrays
Light Weight Wide Aperture Arrays
TB-16, TB-29, and future towed arrays
High-frequency chin and sail arrays
1 internal launcher (reloadable 2-barrel)
14 external launchers
113 officers and men
Total Program:
30 systems
Total program cost (TY$) $67034M
Average unit cost (TY$) $2110M
Full-rate production 1QFY07