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U.S. Navy Commissions Attack Submarine USS Delaware

USS Delaware
USS Delaware

By The Maritime Executive 04-04-2020 05:59:38

The U.S. Navy has commissioned the nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Delaware

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the submarine was commissioned administratively, with a public event expected in the future.

This is the first time in nearly 100 years the name “Delaware” has been used for a U.S. Navy vessel. It is the seventh U.S. Navy ship, and first submarine, to bear the name of the state of Delaware. The last USS Delaware was a coal-burning dreadnought that was decommissioned in 1923. 

USS Delaware is a flexible, multi-mission platform designed to carry out the seven core competencies of the submarine force: anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; delivery of special operations forces; strike warfare; irregular warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and mine warfare.

The submarine is the final Block III Virginia-class submarine, before the next wave of Block IV deliveries.

In December 2019, the U.S. Navy awarded General Dynamics Electric Boat a contract valued at $22.2 billion for the construction of nine new Virginia-class Block V submarines. The contract also includes the option of a tenth ship to be constructed within the contract time frame, bringing the total potential contract value to approximately $24.1 billion.

The multi-year contract nominates Electric Boat as prime contractor, to work along with Newport News Shipbuilding to deliver the submarines from 2025 through 2029.

Over the life of the Virginia program, shipbuilders have driven delivery timelines from 88 months in Block I to a current rate of 68 months, while doubling the build rate of submarines to two ships per year and consistently increasing ship capability.

Eight of the ships produced for Block V will include the Virginia Payload Module (VPM), which Electric Boat will build at a recently-constructed facility at Quonset Point, Rhode Island. The VPM will comprise four additional large-diameter payload tubes located amidships, increasing the fixed strike capacity of the ship by more than 230 percent. VPM, which was designed by Electric Boat, will enable enhanced use of Special Operating Forces and allow the Navy to bring aboard additional weapons, sensors and other special payloads.

Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding already have delivered 18 Virginia-class submarines to the Navy and all 10 Block IV submarines are currently under construction. Virginia-class submarines displace 7,800 tons, with a hull length of 377 feet and a diameter of 34 feet. With VPM, the submarines displace 10,200 tons and have a length of 460 feet. They are capable of speeds in excess of 25 knots and can dive to a depth greater than 800 feet, while carrying Mark 48 advanced capability torpedoes, Tomahawk land-attack missiles and unmanned underwater vehicles.