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NSSN Virginia-class - current status and future

bobbymike

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https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2018/05/12/future-attack-sub-rickover-hits-milestone-as-us-navy-churns-through-virginia-block-iv/

WASHINGTON — The Navy marked a milestone Friday for the ship named after the famously ornery and uncompromising father of the nuclear-powered Navy, Hyman G. Rickover, as the Navy burns its way through the latest iteration of the Virginia-class attack submarine.

At a ceremony at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Connecticut, the Navy celebrated the laying down of Rickover's keel.

"Adm. Rickover’s gift to our Nation’s defense — safe, reliable, and militarily superior naval nuclear propulsion — is as vital to our warfighting edge today as it was at the beginning of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program 70 years ago," said Naval Reactors head Adm. Frank Caldwell, who now holds Rickover's old job. "The U.S. Navy and our nation are proud to honor his achievements and legacy with this submarine."

Rickover is the fourth boat in the 10-ship Virginia-class Block IV, which is primarily designed to reduce by one the number of major overhauls the ship needs in it's lifetime, adding a deployment in the process. The first boat of Block IV, the Vermont, is headed towards it's christening later this fall, according to a release from Naval Sea Systems Command.
 

bobbymike

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https://news.usni.org/2018/06/08/china-stolen-vast-amounts-navy-submarine-missile-data-multiple-breaches-contractors-servers

Chinese government-sponsored cyber thieves stole hundreds of gigabytes of data related to sensitive Navy undersea warfare programs from a government contractor earlier this year, a defense official familiar with details of the breach told USNI News on Friday.

The official confirmed details reported in a Friday afternoon story in The Washington Post in which hackers took “614 gigabytes of material relating to a closely held project known as Sea Dragon, as well as signals and sensor data, submarine radio room information relating to cryptographic systems, and the Navy submarine development unit’s electronic warfare library.”

The data is described in the story as sensitive but not classified.

When contacted, Navy spokesman Lt. Marycate Walsh would not confirm the accuracy of the Post report but provided a statement on general cyber intrusions.
 

bobbymike

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https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2018/06/12/how-virginia-class-subs-will-be-able-to-pack-an-even-bigger-punch/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=Socialflow

WASHINGTON ― Courtesy of BAE Systems, some Virginia-class submarines will be able to pack a bigger punch.

The U.S. Navy has granted a contract to British company to produce payload tubes for two of the service’s Block V Virginia-class subs. Each will be extended in length with an additional mid-body section to create additional room for payloads and, in turn, for greater firepower.

One large-diameter payload tube can store and launch up to seven Tomahawk cruise missiles. The four new tubes per sub will add to the existing firepower of the two large-diameter, 87-inch Virginia Payload Tubes on the bow, each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles
87" diameter? D5 prompt global strike missile?
 

NeilChapman

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bobbymike said:
https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2018/06/12/how-virginia-class-subs-will-be-able-to-pack-an-even-bigger-punch/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=Socialflow

WASHINGTON ― Courtesy of BAE Systems, some Virginia-class submarines will be able to pack a bigger punch.

The U.S. Navy has granted a contract to British company to produce payload tubes for two of the service’s Block V Virginia-class subs. Each will be extended in length with an additional mid-body section to create additional room for payloads and, in turn, for greater firepower.

One large-diameter payload tube can store and launch up to seven Tomahawk cruise missiles. The four new tubes per sub will add to the existing firepower of the two large-diameter, 87-inch Virginia Payload Tubes on the bow, each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles
87" diameter? D5 prompt global strike missile?

Issue is the length. D5 is ~44' 6".
 

marauder2048

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NeilChapman said:
Issue is the length. D5 is ~44' 6".
Interesting to see if they could rehost AHW on a booster stack that would fit in the VPMs.
 

sferrin

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marauder2048 said:
NeilChapman said:
Issue is the length. D5 is ~44' 6".
Interesting to see if they could rehost AHW on a booster stack that would fit in the VPMs.
*cough* KEI. . .
 

TomS

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The last iteration of KEI I know of was 39 feet long, too deep for the VPTs.

The STARS booster for AHW is basically a Polaris misile stack. If that's enough for an operational weapon, you could do something like a D5 without the second stage (or with a half-length first stage).
 

sferrin

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TomS said:
The last iteration of KEI I know of was 39 feet long, too deep for the VPTs.

The STARS booster for AHW is basically a Polaris misile stack. If that's enough for an operational weapon, you could do something like a D5 without the second stage (or with a half-length first stage).
I know this is the Virginia thread but I could swear there has been talk of making Columbia SSGNs after the SSBNs have been built. ???
 

bobbymike

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sferrin said:
TomS said:
The last iteration of KEI I know of was 39 feet long, too deep for the VPTs.

The STARS booster for AHW is basically a Polaris misile stack. If that's enough for an operational weapon, you could do something like a D5 without the second stage (or with a half-length first stage).
I know this is the Virginia thread but I could swear there has been talk of making Columbia SSGNs after the SSBNs have been built. ???
Somewhere in the Nuke New Only thread. Proposed keeping the line open past 12 Columbias and building SSGNs so mid 2040s IIRC.
 

TomS

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sferrin said:
TomS said:
The last iteration of KEI I know of was 39 feet long, too deep for the VPTs.

The STARS booster for AHW is basically a Polaris misile stack. If that's enough for an operational weapon, you could do something like a D5 without the second stage (or with a half-length first stage).
I know this is the Virginia thread but I could swear there has been talk of making Columbia SSGNs after the SSBNs have been built. ???
With NSSN Block V and the VPM, is there really a screaming need for boomer-sized SSGNs?
 

sferrin

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TomS said:
sferrin said:
TomS said:
The last iteration of KEI I know of was 39 feet long, too deep for the VPTs.

The STARS booster for AHW is basically a Polaris misile stack. If that's enough for an operational weapon, you could do something like a D5 without the second stage (or with a half-length first stage).
I know this is the Virginia thread but I could swear there has been talk of making Columbia SSGNs after the SSBNs have been built. ???
With NSSN Block V and the VPM, is there really a screaming need for boomer-sized SSGNs?
As you pointed out, the Virginias are limited in the size of missiles they can carry.
 

DrRansom

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TomS said:
With NSSN Block V and the VPM, is there really a screaming need for boomer-sized SSGNs?
The current SSGNs have something like 5x the number of shots of a VPM. The other reason was to keep the heavy submarine line open indefinitely. Which is pretty smart, because there many be a demand for a submarine UUV carrier within the next 20 years.
 

NeilChapman

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sferrin said:
TomS said:
The last iteration of KEI I know of was 39 feet long, too deep for the VPTs.

The STARS booster for AHW is basically a Polaris misile stack. If that's enough for an operational weapon, you could do something like a D5 without the second stage (or with a half-length first stage).
I know this is the Virginia thread but I could swear there has been talk of making Columbia SSGNs after the SSBNs have been built. ???
I've seen that as well but I can't find it now. Was it in a document talking about future ship build schedules?

I can see Columbia becoming "Improved Virginia". If nothing else than to have one boat being built. But there are lots of good operational reasons as well.
 

bobbymike

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bobbymike said:
https://news.usni.org/2017/11/02/navy-considering-mid-block-virginia-class-upgrades-ssgn-construction-late-2030s

To address that firepower gap, the TSEP looks at the possibility of using the Columbia-class SSBN design and production line to flow into an SSGN production line in the mid-2030s.
With a sub-launched LRSO or better yet an hypersonic BGV on a IRBM.
USNI article
 

TomS

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DrRansom said:
TomS said:
With NSSN Block V and the VPM, is there really a screaming need for boomer-sized SSGNs?
The current SSGNs have something like 5x the number of shots of a VPM. The other reason was to keep the heavy submarine line open indefinitely. Which is pretty smart, because there many be a demand for a submarine UUV carrier within the next 20 years.
A Block V has more like 40-50 TLAM (4x7 in the VPM, 12 more in the forward VPTs, and more in the torpedo room). That's a third of an SSGN and more than enough for most likely strike missions.
 

Moose

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I believe a new-build SSGN that's a straight adaption of Columbia class (retaining 16-ish payload tubes) is ultimately unlikely. But a more affordable SSN/SSGN making use of Columbia tooling and hardware where practical while being considerably smaller overall seems like it has a good chance.
 

sferrin

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Moose said:
I believe a new-build SSGN that's a straight adaption of Columbia class (retaining 16-ish payload tubes) is ultimately unlikely. But a more affordable SSN/SSGN making use of Columbia tooling and hardware where practical while being considerably smaller overall seems like it has a good chance.
The whole point would be to take advantage of the greater diameter (enabling longer missiles). Maybe make it shorter. 8 tubes instead of 16 but how much would doing that actually save once you add in all the additional NRE?
 

moonbeamsts

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Doesn't the Columbia missile come in 4 pack configuration? With 8 tubes and the VPM hatch design USN could do a short columbia at reduced cost with massive fire power and payload flexibility.
https://news.usni.org/2016/10/06/101m-awarded-electric-boat-build-ssbn-missile-tubes-uk-enters-manufacturing-phase-successor-class
 

marauder2048

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sferrin said:
Moose said:
I believe a new-build SSGN that's a straight adaption of Columbia class (retaining 16-ish payload tubes) is ultimately unlikely. But a more affordable SSN/SSGN making use of Columbia tooling and hardware where practical while being considerably smaller overall seems like it has a good chance.
The whole point would be to take advantage of the greater diameter (enabling longer missiles). Maybe make it shorter. 8 tubes instead of 16 but how much would doing that actually save once you add in all the additional NRE?
There was also an argument for a faster transiting SSGN which translates to about a 300 ft length for a 43 ft beam.
 

Moose

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sferrin said:
Moose said:
I believe a new-build SSGN that's a straight adaption of Columbia class (retaining 16-ish payload tubes) is ultimately unlikely. But a more affordable SSN/SSGN making use of Columbia tooling and hardware where practical while being considerably smaller overall seems like it has a good chance.
The whole point would be to take advantage of the greater diameter (enabling longer missiles). Maybe make it shorter. 8 tubes instead of 16 but how much would doing that actually save once you add in all the additional NRE?
Probably a $billion without sweating.
marauder2048 said:
sferrin said:
Moose said:
I believe a new-build SSGN that's a straight adaption of Columbia class (retaining 16-ish payload tubes) is ultimately unlikely. But a more affordable SSN/SSGN making use of Columbia tooling and hardware where practical while being considerably smaller overall seems like it has a good chance.
The whole point would be to take advantage of the greater diameter (enabling longer missiles). Maybe make it shorter. 8 tubes instead of 16 but how much would doing that actually save once you add in all the additional NRE?
There was also an argument for a faster transiting SSGN which translates to about a 300 ft length for a 43 ft beam.
Oh yes indeed. Waste not the ability to roll those 43' barrel sections.
 

NeilChapman

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Moose said:
I believe a new-build SSGN that's a straight adaption of Columbia class (retaining 16-ish payload tubes) is ultimately unlikely. But a more affordable SSN/SSGN making use of Columbia tooling and hardware where practical while being considerably smaller overall seems like it has a good chance.
But that's not the bureaucratic way. In government speak, 'why build one when you can build two at twice the price?'

By then, Columbia will be more affordable. Production will be in full swing. Incremental improvements in efficiency will result in considerable man-hour reductions. Look at the efficiencies in the Virginia build.

Hasn't the line between the requirements for each class blurred as the mission requirements have changed? Attack boats need a larger diameter to accommodate more flexibility in munitions. Boomers need to be faster while being even quieter than before. If both the strategic and the tactical missions can be accomplished with one boat then it might make sense to build one boat.

It seems more likely that Columbia tech will be late and some reduction in capability will result. I could see more boats built so later 'blocks' could receive upgrades. The Navy also wants a particular quantity of boats in general. If funding isn't available to meet the quantity required then I could also see Virginia Block VIII.
 

bobbymike

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https://news.usni.org/2018/07/25/35314

The first Columbia-class submarine is more than a decade away from joining the fleet and General Dynamics is preparing its Electric Boat business — and the Wall Street analysts watching the company — for what the almost $100 billion project means to its operations.

During the quarter, the U.S. Navy awarded General Dynamics $225 million for Block V Virginia-class submarine long-lead materials, and $100 million for advanced nuclear plant studies in support of the Columbia-class submarine project. Later this year, General Dynamics expects to finalize the Block V contract with the Navy, Phebe Novakovic, chief executive, told analysts during a conference call Wednesday morning.

Overall, these awards, steady work at the shipyards and good performance by other General Dynamics business lines helped the company report strong financial results for the three months ending July 1. Revenues were $9.2 billion, compared to revenues of $7.7 billion for the same period a year ago, according to the General Dynamics earnings report. Profits for the quarter were $786 million, an increase from the $749 million reported a year ago.
 

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https://news.usni.org/2018/08/08/35632

"General Dynamics Electric Boat and the Navy are evaluating the potential of missile tube welding issues identified by a subcontractor to delay construction of the first Columbia-class submarines, the next block of Virginia-class submarines and for the British Dreadnought-class submarines."


** Edit: Fixed problem link **
 

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https://news.usni.org/2018/10/19/analysis-of-navy-shipbuilding-plan-hints-at-return-to-blue-sea-great-power-competition?fbclid=IwAR0tKJVKVAQu-2OKocVkRG_6t9zKDX7JY3vZaZMqXdPy_39_SEZq64Y6Dn8

The Navy’s next class fast attack submarine will be designed for a return to blue-water great power competition, where the ability to support forces ashore is less important than operating in the open ocean hunting rival submarines, according to an analysis of the Navy’s 30 Year shipbuilding plan conducted by Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The Navy plans to start purchasing this new class of submarine in 2034. Previously the SSN(X) class were assumed to be a successor to the current Virginia-class submarine, complete with the Virginia Payload Module (VPM) – a vertical launch system that increases the number of Tomahawk-sized weapons from 12 to 40 – and other acoustic and technological design improvements, according to the CBO analysis released Thursday.
 

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Two submarines christened in one day - a rare occurence indeed. It happened Saturday, when Jill Biden christened #DELAWARE SSN791 at Newport News VA and Gloria Valdez broke the bottle for #VERMONT SSN792 at Groton CT
 

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bobbymike

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https://news.usni.org/2018/11/14/navy-looking-use-virginia-payload-module-deploy-new-missiles-uuvs

ARLINGTON, Va. – The undersea warfare community wants to boost attack sub lethality by providing new payloads for the Virginia-class SSNs, especially ones that can be leveraged through the Virginia Payload Module missile tubes that will be added to new-construction boats beginning this year.

Program Executive Office for Submarines Executive Director George Drakeley said at the two-day annual Naval Submarine League symposium last week that, when the Navy was first pitching the idea of adding the VPM missile tube capacity to SSNs, “we were only really allowed to talk about it as a replacement for SSGN (Ohio-class guided-missile submarine) strike; we weren’t able to talk about other missions. And most of you here as submariners and warfighters could think of a lot of things you could do with a VPM. Well, the handcuffs are off now, and lately we’ve been talking about other capabilities.”
 

bring_it_on

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^ A Harpoon on an SSN for the 2020s. ::)
 

bring_it_on

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They should at least consider the LRASM which is now months away from being fielded. Going forward, we should spin off an AShM requirement into some of the hypersonic programs much the same way the Army is doing with PrSM via increments on the BM side.
 

sferrin

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bring_it_on said:
They should at least consider the LRASM which is now months away from being fielded. Going forward, we should spin off an AShM requirement into some of the hypersonic programs much the same way the Army is doing with PrSM via increments on the BM side.
LRASM is too fat for a 21" tube.
 

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sferrin said:
bring_it_on said:
They should at least consider the LRASM which is now months away from being fielded. Going forward, we should spin off an AShM requirement into some of the hypersonic programs much the same way the Army is doing with PrSM via increments on the BM side.
LRASM is too fat for a 21" tube.
How are they launching it from 21" VLS cells?
 

sferrin

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Colonial-Marine said:
sferrin said:
bring_it_on said:
They should at least consider the LRASM which is now months away from being fielded. Going forward, we should spin off an AShM requirement into some of the hypersonic programs much the same way the Army is doing with PrSM via increments on the BM side.
LRASM is too fat for a 21" tube.
How are they launching it from 21" VLS cells?
Beats the hell out of me. A poster here, TomS I believe, has indicated that they've launched somewhat larger missiles from the Mk41 VLS by removing the liner from the canister. This includes ATACMs at 24" diameter apparently. I have no idea how, or if, that compromises the canister.
 

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I think Mr. Truitt has good enough intentions and has some points about advancing reactor technology and automation to drive down some costs. But I think some of his ideas run contrary to reality. Side-stepping disagreements about what technologies should be used in what ways: A sub smaller than a French Barracuda is simply not going to have the volume available for the sensors, comms, processors, weapons, quieting, hybrid drive, and crew accommodations he wants even with a smaller crew and more compact weapons. I'll point out that the last time the USN designed a sub focused on ASW and ISR, the result was the rather large Seawolf.
 

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The only way his idea would have a chance would be to offload land attack to dedicated SSGNs and that's not going to happen. Like fighter aircraft, non-SSBN submarines are almost exclusively multirole these days.
 

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I think Mr. Truitt has good enough intentions and has some points about advancing reactor technology and automation to drive down some costs. But I think some of his ideas run contrary to reality. Side-stepping disagreements about what technologies should be used in what ways: A sub smaller than a French Barracuda is simply not going to have the volume available for the sensors, comms, processors, weapons, quieting, hybrid drive, and crew accommodations he wants even with a smaller crew and more compact weapons. I'll point out that the last time the USN designed a sub focused on ASW and ISR, the result was the rather large Seawolf.
Well, the Seawolf was also designed for long-duration autonomy up in the Soviet bastions, so the huge torpedo room was a fallout of that. A focused ASW/ISR boat that didn't feel the need to take on the whole Soviet North Fleet single-handed might not need quite such large magazines, or sensor apertures.

On the armament front, I don't fancy the idea of having to duel with an opposing nuke boat using short-range, non-wired torpedoes like the current US lightweights. I suppose one could develop a wired lightweight (like the Swedish 400mm designs) but that's another pile of money to spend.

But the basic problem is going to be cost. Yes, a smaller boat might be cheaper. But there remains a need for a large boat like the latest Virginias for the land-attack and SOCOM support roles, at least, as well as probaly other fleet tasks. And there just is not RDT&E money to fund parallel development of both a large and small design.
 

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Any reason why they cannot build some with the extended role and some without? Shirley there could be a saving with a common hull, some with and some without hull extension etc.
 
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