The Most Sophisticated Attack Submarine In US History Is Now In Service

USS Mississippi

Photo: USS Mississippi Commissioning

The U.S. Navy welcomed the most recent addition to its fleet of Virginia Class submarines in a commissioning ceremony yesterday at Pascagoula, Mississippi.Billy Watkins at the Clarion Ledger reports that the USS Mississippi was brought into service before a crowd of Navy officials, VIPs, crew family members, and a handful of veteran groups.

The sub has already been through sea trials and was christened back in December in Groton, Conn. at General Dynamics Electric Boat.

The Virginia Class boats have a list of technological innovations unique to their design.

The Mississippi actually came in a year early and under budget at $2 billion.


To support Special Operations Command operations, the Virginia class submarines are capable of transporting and launching both the DDS (dry deck shelter) and the SDV (SEAL delivery vehicle).  These submarines are also equipped with a 9-man diver lock out chamber for rapid deployment of swimmers directly from the submarine. The Virginia class submarines are the first class of American submarine to be equipped with a non-hull penetrating fibre-optic periscope system. 

The Virginia is equipped with two Kollmorgen BVS-1 photonic masts.  In addition to the standard daylight optic capabilities of traditional periscopes, the photonic masts will also incorporate LLTV (Low Light TV), thermal imaging, and laser rangefinding capabilities. To reduce the submarine’s noise signature, the various compartments are fitted with isolated deck modules, where components are mounted as a single unit on a spring isolated platform, thus eliminating vibration related noise from radiating out through the hull or axially between compartments.

The Mississippi’s specifications break down as follows:

  • Builders: GD Electric Boat and Northrop Grumman Newport News
  • Length: 377 ft 
  • Beam: 34 ft 
  • Displacement: 7,800 long tons 
  • Payload: 40 weapons, special operations forces, unmanned undersea vehicles, Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS)
  • Propulsion: The S9G nuclear reactor
  • Maximum diving depth: greater than 800 ft
  • Speed: 29 mph
  • Planned cost: about US$1.65 billion each (based on FY95 dollars, 30-ship class and two ship/year build-rate)
  • Actual cost: about $2 billion each 
  • Crew: 120 enlisted and 14 officers
  • Armament: 12 VLS & four torpedo tubes, capable of launching Mark 48 torpedoes, UGM-109 Tactical Tomahawks, Harpoon missiles and the new advanced mobile mine when it comes available.

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