US Navy's Virginia class program of nuclear powered submarines in trouble


According to a report published by the US Congressional Research Service on July 27, 2022, the Virginia class program experienced cost growth in its early years and delays relative to targeted delivery dates. What will Australia decide next?
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Virginia class attack submarine USS Vermont. (Picture source: U.S. DoD)


This comes after Australia's previous defense minister, Mr Dutton, said on 13 June 2022 that his plan was to buy two Virginia-class submarines from the US by 2030.

In September 2021 Australia scraped its French contract of Barracuda-class submarines to sign a trilateral security pact called AUKUS with the United Kingdom and the United States.

Under the pact, the United States and the United Kingdom agree to help Australia to develop and deploy nuclear-powered submarines. The other option for the Royal Australian Navy is the future British Astute class submarine.

About the Virginia class submarines

The Virginia class, also known as the SSN-774 class, is a class of nuclear-powered cruise missile fast-attack submarines, in service in the United States Navy.

They are designed to excel in anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship warfare, strike warfare, special operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, irregular warfare, and mine warfare. Fast-attack submarines project power ashore with special operations forces and Tomahawk cruise missiles in the prevention or preparation of regional crises.

The Virginia-class submarine has a length of 114.8 m, and a beam of 10.36 m. The submarine can reach a top speed of 28 miles per hour (45 km/h). She has a crew of 132 people including 15 officers and 117 enlisted.

The Virginia Class is equipped with twelve Vertical Launch System (VLS) tubes and four torpedo tubes (starting with SSN 784 North Dakota [Block II], the 12 VLS tubes are replaced by 2 large-diameter payload tubes).

The submarines also carry Mk 48 ADCAP Torpedoes, UGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles, Mk 60 CAPTOR mines, advanced mobile mines, and unmanned underwater vehicles.


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