Nuclear attack submarine USS Colorado (SSN-788) commissioned during a Saturday morning ceremony at the Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn.
Construction of Colorado started in 2012 and is the 15th Virginia-class fast attack submarine, and the fifth Virginia-class Block III submarine to be built. Colorado will be the fourth U.S. Navy ship commissioned named for the state of Colorado.
“USS Colorado is a true marvel of technology and innovation, and it shows the capability that our industrial partners bring to the fight,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer in a press release. “Today’s world requires undersea platforms designed for dominance across a broad spectrum of regional and littoral missions, and I am confident Colorado will proudly serve in defense of our nation’s interests for decades to come.”
The Block III Virginia-class submarines have a redesigned bow with two large-diameter 87-inch Virginia Payload Tubes, each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles. Block III hulls include the eight ships purchased between Fiscal Years 2008 and 2013. Three more Block III hulls are being built, according to the service.
The Virginia Payload Tubes simplify construction, reduce acquisition costs, and due to their added volume provide for more payload flexibility than the smaller 12 individual Vertical Launch System tubes in earlier built Block I and Block II Virginia-class submarines, according to the Navy.
Other Block III improvements include the traditional air-backed sonar sphere was replaced with a water-backed Large Aperture Bow (LAB) array, reducing construction and maintenance costs while providing enhanced passive detection capabilities, according to a Navy
Construction of ten Block IV submarines is underway, with a focus on making several small-scale design changes to increase the lifecycle of the submarine’s components. Doing so is expected to increase the availability of the Block IV submarines, compared to earlier blocks. The Navy plans for Block IV submarines to undergo three depot maintenance availabilities and 15 deployments during their service lives. Currently, the ratio of depot availabilities to deployments is 4:14, according to the Navy.
Earlier this week, the Navy announced sub builder General Dynamics Electric Boat was awarded a $696.2 million contract modification for long-lead materials for the first of the Virginia-class Block V attack boats. These will be longer than previously built Virginia-class subs, to accommodate four Virginia Payload Module tubes, which will each contain seven Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs). The Virginia Payload Module tubes are similar to the Virginia Payload Tubes, the Navy stated, because using a proven design should minimize both cost and design risks.