Step Aboard The Navy’s $2.4 Billion Virginia-Class Nuclear Submarine

uss virginia

[credit provider=”Christina Shaw / US Navy” url=”http://www.navy.mil/view_single.asp?id=17219″]

The USS Virginia-class submarines are the United State’s newest and most advanced submarine.The first Virginia slipped beneath the waves just eight years ago and  only nine vessels have been completed.

They take more than five years to build and run about $2.4 billion apiece.

Here, we look at the Virginia class of submarines from stern to bow, finding out what makes these ships unique.

We’ll start in the engine room, move our way over the reactor, through the barracks to the command centre and down into the torpedo room. 

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[slide
permalink=”the-virginia-class-submarine-is-a-new-breed-of-high-tech-post-cold-war-nuclear-subs-1″
title=”The Virginia-class submarine is a new breed of high-tech post-Cold War nuclear subs”
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permalink=”the-submarines-are-nearly-400-feet-long-and-have-been-in-service-since-2003-2″
title=”The submarines are nearly 400 feet long and have been in service since 2003″
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permalink=”the-ships-were-designed-to-function-well-in-both-deep-sea-and-low-depth-waters-3″
title=”The ships were designed to function well in both deep sea and low-depth waters”
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[slide
permalink=”so-far-nine-have-entered-service–here-is-cheryl-mcguiness-the-widow-of-one-of-the-pilots-killed-on-911-christening-the-uss-new-hampshire-4″
title=”So far, nine have entered service — here is Cheryl McGuiness, the widow of one of the pilots killed on 9/11, christening the USS New Hampshire”
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[slide
permalink=”here-are-the-uss-virginias-engines-which-powers-a-pump-jet-propulsor-rather-than-a-conventional-propeller-5″
title=”Here are the USS Virginia’s engines, which powers a pump-jet propulsor rather than a conventional propeller”
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[slide
permalink=”this-design-cuts-back-on-corrosive-damage-and-also-makes-the-ship-stealthier-6″
title=”This design cuts back on corrosive damage and also makes the ship stealthier”
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[slide
permalink=”the-engine-room-near-the-subs-stern-is-the-place-where-power-from-the-sg9-nuclear-reactor-core-drives-the-ship-to-nearly-32-mph-when-its-submerged-7″
title=”The engine room, near the sub’s stern, is the place where power from the SG9 nuclear reactor core drives the ship to nearly 32 mph when it’s submerged”
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image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5017e67aecad04b33b000013″
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[slide
permalink=”this-hallway–extending-from-the-engine-room-over-the-reactor-and-through-the-living-habitat-in-the-center-of-the-ship–is-dark-so-that-sailors-can-sleep-8″
title=”This hallway — extending from the engine room, over the reactor and through the living habitat in the centre of the ship — is dark so that sailors can sleep”
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image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5017e67b69beddfd2f000014″
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[slide
permalink=”the-ship-has-an-airlock-chamber-with-room-for-9-seals-9″
title=”The ship has an airlock chamber with room for 9 SEALs”
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[slide
permalink=”the-seals-can-exit-the-sub-while-its-underwater-by-passing-through-this-airlock-10″
title=”The SEALs can exit the sub while its underwater by passing through this airlock”
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image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5017e67eecad04e43f000003″
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[slide
permalink=”this-lock-out-chamber-is-in-the-center-of-the-ship-11″
title=”This lock-out chamber is in the centre of the ship”
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[slide
permalink=”submariners-eat-well–the-quality-of-the-food-is-designed-to-offset-the-stress-and-burden-of-living-underwater-for-months-at-a-time-12″
title=”Submariners eat well — the quality of the food is designed to offset the stress and burden of living underwater for months at a time”
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[slide
permalink=”as-one-sailor-said-its-like-having-comfort-food-24-hours-a-day-13″
title=”As one sailor said, “It’s like having comfort food 24-hours a day”
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[slide
permalink=”going-further-toward-the-bow-of-the-sub-the-command-center-is-directly-beneath-the-main-sail-of-the-sub-and-where-the-navigators-do-their-work-14″
title=”Going further toward the bow of the sub, the command centre is directly beneath the main sail of the sub and where the navigators do their work”
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[slide
permalink=”the-command-center-on-the-virginia-subs-are-much-more-spacious-compared-previous-submarines-15″
title=”The command centre on the Virginia subs are much more spacious compared previous submarines”
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[slide
permalink=”the-command-center-doesnt-have-to-be-directly-under-the-deck-of-the-ship-in-the-virginia-class-subs-because-there-isnt-a-periscope-16″
title=”The command centre doesn’t have to be directly under the deck of the ship in the Virginia-class subs because there isn’t a periscope.”
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[slide
permalink=”the-monitor-the-commander-is-looking-at-is-this-is-the-subs-periscope–a-state-of-the-art-photonics-system-which-enables-real-time-imaging-that-more-than-one-person-can-see-at-a-time-17″
title=”The monitor the Commander is looking at is this is the sub’s “periscope” — a state-of-the-art photonics system, which enables real time imaging that more than one person can see at a time”
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[slide
permalink=”the-virginia-eliminates-the-traditional-helmsman-planesman-chief-of-the-watch-and-diving-officer-by-combining-them-into-two-stations-manned-by-two-officers-18″
title=”The Virginia eliminates the traditional helmsman, planesman, chief of the watch and diving officer by combining them into two stations manned by two officers”
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image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5017e6866bb3f70c6c000004″
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[slide
permalink=”the-subs-are-equipped-with-a-spherical-sonar-array-that-scans-a-full-360-degrees-19″
title=”The subs are equipped with a spherical sonar array that scans a full 360-degrees”
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image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5017e692eab8eabc14000003″
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[slide
permalink=”the-virginia-subs-carry-a-full-crew-of-134-sailors-20″
title=”The Virginia subs carry a full crew of 134 sailors”
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[slide
permalink=”despite-computer-navigation-systems-all-routes-are-plotted-manually-as-well-21″
title=”Despite computer navigation systems all routes are plotted manually as well”
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[slide
permalink=”down-below-the-command-center-is-the-torpedo-room-where-it-is-possible-to-set-up-temporary-bunks-for-special-operations-team-22″
title=”Down below the command centre is the torpedo room, where it is possible to set up temporary bunks for special operations team”
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[slide
permalink=”the-ships-carry-up-to-12-vertical-launch-tomahawk-missiles-and-38-torpedoes-23″
title=”The ships carry up to 12 vertical launch tomahawk missiles and 38 torpedoes”
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image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5017e6a6ecad04d33d00000c”
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[slide
permalink=”here-an-officer-on-the-uss-texas-fires-water-through-the-torpedo-tubes-as-part-of-a-test-24″
title=”Here an officer on the USS Texas fires water through the torpedo tubes as part of a test”
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image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5017e6abecad04b13b000010″
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[slide
permalink=”the-subs-were-designed-to-host-the-defunct-advanced-seal-delivery-system-a-midget-submarine-that-transported-the-navy-seals-from-the-sub-to-their-mission-25″
title=”The subs were designed to host the defunct Advanced SEAL Delivery system, a midget submarine that transported the Navy SEALs from the sub to their mission”
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image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5017e6aeeab8ea9c1100001e”
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[slide
permalink=”the-only-thing-in-front-of-the-torpedo-room-is-the-bow-of-the-submarine-which-contains-sonar-equipment-and-shielding-designed-to-make-the-sub-stealthier-26″
title=”The only thing in front of the torpedo room is the bow of the submarine, which contains sonar equipment and shielding designed to make the sub stealthier”
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image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5017e6b66bb3f7b56900000a”
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[slide
permalink=”even-as-they-are-being-built-new-improvements-and-upgrades-are-being-added-into-the-design-of-the-submarines-27″
title=”Even as they are being built, new improvements and upgrades are being added into the design of the submarines”
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[slide
permalink=”thats-what-the-us-has-in-the-works-beneath-the-waves-28″
title=”That’s what the U.S. has in the works beneath the waves”
content=”Now: See the take a tour of the Loading Platform Dock ship >
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[/slideshow]