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|103k|| A cut out of the Virginia class (SSN-774) submarine characteristics Block III: The Changes. |
The most obvious change is the switch from 12 vertical launch tubes, to 12 missiles in 2 tubes that use technology from the Ohio Class special forces/ strike SSGN program. The Virginia's hull has a smaller cross-section than the converted ballistic missile SSGNs, so the “6-shooters” will be shorter and a bit wider. Nevertheless, they will share a great deal of common technology, allowing innovations on either platform to be incorporated into the other submarine class during major maintenance milestones. Net savings are about $8 million to program baseline costs.
The other big change you can see in the above diagram is switching from an air-backed sonar sphere to a water-backed Large Aperture Bow (LAB) array. Eliminating the hundreds of SUBSAFE penetrations that help maintain required pressure in the air-backed sonar sphere will save approximately $11 million per hull, and begins with the FY 2012 boats (SSNs 787-788).
The LAB Array has 2 primary components: the passive array, which will provide improved performance, and a medium-frequency active array. It utilizes transducers from the SSN-21 Seawolf Class that are that are designed to last the life of the hull. This is rather par for the course, as the Virginia Class was created in the 1990s to incorporate key elements of the $4 billion Seawolf Class submarine technologies into a cheaper boat.
The SUBSAFE eliminations, plus the life-of-the-hull transducers, will help to reduce the submarines' life cycle costs as well by removing moving parts that require maintenance, eliminating possible points of failure and repair, and removing the need for transducer replacements in drydock.
The bow redesign is not limited to these changes, however, and includes 25 associated redesign efforts. These are estimated to reduce construction costs by another $20 million per hull beginning with the FY 2012 submarine.
With the $19 million ($11 + 8) from the LAB array and Vertical Payload, and the $20 million from the associated changes, General Dynamics is $39 million toward the $200 million baseline costs goal of “2 for 4 in 12”. While the changes themselves will begin with the FY 2009 ship, the savings are targeted at FY 2012 because of the learning curve required as part of the switch. Recent discussions concerning an earlier shift to 2 submarines per year would result in faster production of the Block III submarines, but would be unlikely to make a huge difference to that learning curve.
The construction of the North Dakota (SSN-784), a Virginia Class submarine, is under way.
The Navy released the first image of the work the newest generation payload tubes for this class of submarine to deliver Tomahawk cruise missiles.
The new Virginia Payload Tubes replace the more costly individual Vertical Launch System payload tubes of the past. Unlike the first 10 Virginia Class submarines that housed 12 Tomahawks in individual VLS tubes, North Dakota will use two of the new tubes to house and launch the same number of missiles. The new tubes will provide the North Dakota with greater payload flexibility because it will be able to house a range of weapon payloads that are too big for existing VLS tubes.
"This shows how much cutting-edge technology is being used in the construction of this sub," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. "It's great to see the progress being made in building this impressive vessel. It's a fitting and proud tribute to all North Dakota veterans."
Over the past few years, Dorgan led an effort for the Navy to name a new North Dakota. He invited Sen. Kent Conrad, Rep. Earl Pomeroy and a number of other distinguished North Dakotans to form the North Dakota Committee, and convinced former Secretary of State Warren Christopher, who was born in North Dakota at Scranton, to be honorary chairman. Last July, that effort paid off.
Until then, North Dakota was one of only five states that had not had more than one ship named after it, despite North Dakota's significant contributions to branches of the U.S. military. The first and only at sea North Dakota (BB-29) was decommissioned in 1923.
|Photo & text courtesy of minotdailynews.com & defenseindustrydaily.com.|
|226k||Senior welder Marvin Taul welds the initials of Katie Fowler, left, ship's sponsor of the Virginia-class attack submarine Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) North Dakota (SSN-784) into the keel of the boat during a ceremony at General Dynamics Electric Boat, Quonset Point on 11 May 2012.||USN photo # 120511-N-ZZ999-106 by Lt. j.g. Jeff Prunera, courtesy of navy.news.mil.|
|187k||Commander Douglas Gordon was born in Indianapolis, IN and graduated from Auburn University in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. He enlisted in the Navy and attended Nuclear Power School prior to being released from active duty to attend Auburn University on an NROTC scholarship. Following graduation, he completed nuclear power training and the Submarine Officer Basic Course prior to assignment aboard Albany (SSN-753) from January 1993 to December 1995. From December 1995 to March 1998 he served on the staff of Commander, Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet as a Command Center Watch Officer and later as the Fleet Intelligence Support Officer. Commander Gordon went on to be the Engineer Officer in Louisiana (SSBN-743) (Blue) from October 1998 to October 2001 where he completed five strategic deterrent patrols. He reported in October 2001 to Commander, United States Pacific Fleet, Nuclear Propulsion Examining Board, where he served as a junior board member on the inspection team. Commander Gordon was assigned as Executive Officer in Santa Fe (SSN-763) from February 2004 to December 2005, completing one Western Pacific deployment. He earned a Master's Degree in Engineering Management from Old Dominion University prior to his departure. Following his tour, he was assigned to Commander, Submarine Development Squadron Twelve as a Deputy Commander for Readiness from January 2006 to July 2006. Commander Gordon graduated from the Naval War College in June 2007, earning a Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies, as well as completing Joint Professional Military Education Phase II. He served as the Deputy Branch Head for Capability Assessments and Lean Six Sigma (N126) on the OPNAV staff from July 2007 to December 2008. He then served as Deputy Commander for Readiness on the staff of Commander, Submarine Squadron Fifteen in Guam until July 2011. Commander Gordon is entitled to wear the Meritorious Service Medal with two gold stars, the Navy Commendation Medal with three gold stars, the Navy Achievement Medal with two gold stars, and various other unit awards.||USN photo courtesy of public.navy.mil via Bill Gonyo.|
|357k||This photo is of the North Dakota (SSN-784) crew so far and members of our delegation present at the wonderful keel laying ceremony. This section is one of four sections which will make up North Dakota which is for the crew berthing and auxiliary machinery room spaces. Katie Fowler (in the pink dress), is the wife of Vice Admiral Jeff Fowler (Ret), as the sponsor of the boat. Katie has a very strong North Dakota connection through her husband Jeff who is a Bismarck High School graduate and whose parents continue to live in Bismarck. Over the years Katie has spent lots of time in North Dakota. As sponsor Katie will be involved in every milestone on North Dakota's way toward its active duty as the most advanced submarine in the Navy in 2014.||USN photo courtesy of public.navy.mil via Bill Gonyo.|
|454k||The North Dakota (SSN-784) finally welded together as a whole submarine.||Courtesy of General Dynamics Electric Boat via Lexi Jorgenson @ bismarcktribune.com.|
|352k||Katie and Jeff Fowler in the submarine's control room. At right in uniform is Commander Doug Gordon, the submarine's commanding officer. The officer second from the left is Lt. Commander Kris Lancaster, the executive officer. The man on the left is Mike Nowak, the ship's manager. The Fowlers' visit took place on April 13.||Courtesy of General Dynamics Electric Boat via Lexi Jorgenson @ bismarcktribune.com.|
|392k||The submarine sponsor Katie Fowler and her husband, retired Vice Admiral Jeff Fowler, a Bismarck High School graduate, look at the lock out chamber that can hold up to nine fully-equipped Special Forces members.||Courtesy of General Dynamics Electric Boat via Lexi Jorgenson @ bismarcktribune.com.|
|443k||From left to right standing in front is the Chief of the Boat Master Chief Electronics Technician Tim Preabt; Commanding Officer CDR Doug Gordon and Executive Officer LCDR Jeremiah Minner with her crew in support.||Courtesy of General Dynamics Electric Boat via Lexi Jorgenson @ bismarcktribune.com.|
|118k||Chief of the Boat Master Chief Tim Preabt, a 1989 Mandan High School graduate, and his wife Linda, a 1990 Williston high School graduate, wave to the crowd during the 4th of July parade in Mandan.||Photo courtesy of ussnd.com via James M Sikora.|
|495k||North Dakota (SSN-784) is rolled out of an indoor shipyard facility at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, Conn. on 11 September 2013.||USN photo # 130911-N-ZZ999-001 courtesy of navy.news.mil. via Ron Reeves.|
|414k||North Dakota (SSN-784) reached another milestone in its construction on 15 September as it was floated off at the General Dynamics Electric Boat facilities in Groton, Conn.||Photo courtesy of bismarcktribune.com. via Robert Hall.|
|622k||North Dakota (SSN-784) emerges from the General Dynamic Electric Boat construction facilities.||Photo courtesy of bismarcktribune.com. via Robert Hall.|
|1.48k||Ship sponsor Katie Fowler, wife of retired Vice Adm. Jeff Fowler, christens Pre-Commissioning Unit North Dakota (SSN-784) by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine against the back of the sail on 2 November 2013.||USN photo # 131102-N-SF554-119 by Lt. j.g. Phillip Chitty courtesy of navy.news.mil.|
|499k||North Dakota (SSN-784) conducts Bravo sea trials on 6 August 2014.|| Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy / Special to The Forum via twincities.com.|
Photo added 10/30/14.
|531k||Sailors prepare to man the ship and bring the ship to life during the commissioning ceremony for the North Dakota (SSN-784) at Submarine Base New London. North Dakota is the 11th Virginia-class attack submarine to join the fleet and the first of eight Block III Virginia-class submarines to be built. The Block III submarines are being built with new Virginia Payload Tubes designed to lower costs and increase missile-firing payload possibilities.|| USN photo # 141025-N-AG815-081 by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class William Larned courtesy of navy.news.mil. via Ron Reeves.|
Photo added 10/30/14.
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