Virginia-Class: The Backbone of the U.S. Navy's Submarine Fleet

Virginia-Class Submarine U.S. Navy
February 27, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: U.S. NavyNavyMilitaryVirginia-classSubmarines

Virginia-Class: The Backbone of the U.S. Navy's Submarine Fleet

Huntington Ingalls Industries recently launched the USS Massachusetts, the newest U.S. Navy Virginia-class submarine. This advanced vessel is crucial for national security. Designed for open-ocean and coastal missions, it boasts stealth technology and supports Navy SEAL operations. The Virginia-class is the future of the U.S. attack-sub fleet.

Summary: Huntington Ingalls Industries recently launched the USS Massachusetts, the newest U.S. Navy Virginia-class submarine. This advanced vessel is crucial for national security. Designed for open-ocean and coastal missions, it boasts stealth technology and supports Navy SEAL operations. The Virginia-class is the future of the U.S. attack-sub fleet.

Navy Launches Cutting-Edge Submarine USS Massachusetts

This month, Huntington Ingalls Industries launched the future Virginia-class fast attack submarine Massachusetts (SSN-798) into the James River at the company's Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division. The shipbuilders successfully transferred the submarine from a construction facility to the floating dry dock, where it was later submerged and moved by tugboats to a submarine pier at the shipyard for final outfitting, testing, and crew certification. 

"Following the christening of this mighty submarine in May, witnessing Massachusetts launch into the river is a source of immense pride for our shipbuilding team," said Jason Ward, NNS vice president of Virginia -class submarine construction. "We understand the importance of Massachusetts, and we will continue to execute with purpose to bring this important national security asset to life and deliver it to the Navy."

PCU Massachusetts (SSN-798) is the 25th Virginia-class submarine and will be the 12th delivered by NNS, one of only two shipyards now capable of designing and building nuclear-powered submarines for the United States Navy. Her keel was laid on December 11, 2020, at Newport News Shipbuilding, in a virtual ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The submarine was christened at a ceremony last May.

In November 2023, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro advised that Boston would be the site of the vessel's commissioning, which is now on track to take place in the spring of 2025. The fast attack submarine is the eighth vessel named for the state of Massachusetts, and the first to be named after the Commonwealth since the battleship USS Massachusetts (BB-59) was decommissioned in 1947.

The Virginia-Class Boats

Designed for use in both the open ocean and for littoral missions, which include anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and intelligence gathering operations, the U.S. Navy's Virginia-class was developed to replace the more expensive Seawolf-class while still providing a capable boat to address nautical threats from near-peer adversaries in the 21st century.

Virginia-Class U.S. Navy

The class of fast-attack submarines has been steadily improved and incorporates the latest stealth, intelligence-gathering, and weapons systems technology. The numerous innovations have also significantly improved their warfighting capabilities – with an emphasis on littoral (close-to-shore) operations.

Since entering service in 2004, the Virginia-class subs have been able to support five of the U.S. Navy's six maritime strategy core capabilities including sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence. It is able to do this by providing a combination of stealth, endurance, mobility, and firepower. The SSNs have a fly-by-wire ship control system that also provides improved shallow-water ship handling, while subs were also designed to deploy special operator forces including Navy SEALS. A reconfigurable torpedo room can accommodate a large number of SOF and all their equipment for prolonged deployments and future off-board payloads.

Virginia-Class Submarine

The Virginia-class is expected to remain the backbone of the United States Navy's attack-sub fleet for decades to come.

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.

You can email the author: [email protected].