Groton, Conn. – While floating partially submerged in icy waters along a dock at a General Dynamics’ Electric Boat facility here, the Navy’s first Block III Virginia-Class attack submarine is being readied for sea-trials, certifications and delivery. As a key step prior to formally handing the boat over to the Navy to begin service, Electric Boat engineers and Navy professionals are testing the electronics, wiring, missile tubes and propulsion system on-board the submarine, among other things, said Kurt Hesch, vice president of Virginia-Class submarines, Electric Boat.
The USS North Dakota, the first Block III Virginia-Class submarine slated for delivery, is expected to be handed over to the Navy for service by April of this year. An April or May delivery is several months in advance of its contracted arrival in August, Navy and Electric Boat officials said. “The fact we’re delivering early to the contract delivery date demonstrates we did the re-design right, something clearly demonstrated in North Dakota’s bow taking two fewer months and 8,000 fewer mandays to build than the previous ship, USS Minnesota,” Capt. Dave Goggins, program manager, Virginia-Class submarines told Military.com in a written statement.
Christened in November, the USS North Dakota will be the first of eight Block III Virginia-Class boats delivered to the Navy, submarines engineered with a series of technological upgrades and innovations compared to earlier Blocks I and II boats, Navy officials said. Blocks I and II, totaling 10 ships, have already been delivered to the Navy.
All eight Block III boats are being built under a $14 billion Navy deal with General Dynamics’ Electric Boat in December of 2008. The Block III subs, now under construction, are being built with new so-called Virginia Payload Tubes designed to lower costs and increase missile-firing payload possibilities, Navy officials explained. Instead of building what most existing Virginia-class submarines have — 12 individual 21-inch in diameter vertical launch tubes able to fire Tomahawk missiles — the Block III submarines are being built with two-larger 87-inch diameter tubes able to house six Tomahawk missiles each.
Full story at: http://www.dodbuzz.com/2014/01/29/navy-set-to-accept-first-virginia-class-block-iii-submarine/