SSN 774 Virginia Class Submarine

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Product Type:

Nuclear-Powered Attack Submarine

Using Service (US):


Program Status:

In Production

Prime Contractors:

General Dynamics (Electric Boat)
Huntington Ingalls (Newport News)

The SSN 774 Virginia Class nuclear-powered attack submarine

About the Virginia Class:

The Virginia Class Submarine (SSN 774 Class) is a nuclear-powered multi mission attack submarine that provides the U.S. Navy with the capabilities to maintain undersea supremacy in the 21st century. The Virginia Class submarine will replace the fleet of Los Angeles Class submarines (SSN 688 Class) - the backbone of the U.S. submarine force.

Virginia Class submarines employ advanced technologies to increase fire power, maneuverability, and stealth. The 377 feet (115 m) long submarine is capable of submerged speeds of more than 25 knots/29 mph (46 km/h) and can stay submerged for up to three months at a time.

SSN 774 submarines are built by General Dynamics-Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding. The latter builds the stern, habitability and machinery spaces, torpedo room, sail and bow. Electric Boat builds the engine room and control room. Both contractors perform work on the reactor plant and alternate on the final assembly, test, outfitting and delivery.

Virginia Class submarines have a 33-year service life and are designed to perform a wide range of missions. They have several innovations that significantly improve their warfighting capabilities - with an emphasis on littoral (close-to-shore) operations. Virginia Class attack submarines are equipped with a fly-by-wire ship control system, which provides improved shallow-water control. The SSN 774 Class has features that support special operation forces such as the torpedo room, which can be reconfigured to house a large number of special operation forces, including all their equipment. The submarine also features a large lock-in/lock-out chamber for divers. In Virginia Class submarines, traditional periscopes have been displaced by two photonics masts that house color, high-resolution black and white, and infrared digital cameras on top of telescoping arms. With the removal of conventional periscopes, the control room has been moved down one deck and away from the hull's curvature. This provides more room and an improved layout that provides commanding officerd with enhanced situational awareness. Additionally, through the extensive use of modular construction, open architecture, and commercial off-the-shelf components, the Virginia Class is designed to remain state-of-the-art for its entire operational life. The submarine will constantly be updated with new systems and payloads as they become available.

As part of the Virginia Class Block III contract, the Navy redesigned approximately 20% of the submarine to reduce the acquisition cost. Most of these changes are found in the bow where the air-backed sonar sphere has been replaced with a water-backed Large Aperture Bow array. The new bow also replaces the 12 individual Vertical Launch System (VLS) tubes with two large diameter 87-inch Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching six UGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles. The VPTs simplify construction, reduce acquisition costs and, due to their added volume, provide for more payload flexibility than the smaller VLS tubes. Block III submarines include SSNs 784-791.

Block IV submarines (SSNs 792-801) incorporate design changes focused on reducing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). By making smaller-scale design changes to increase the component-level lifecycle of the submarine, the time between depot maintenance availabilities is increased as are the number of deployments. During their service life, Block I-III submarines will undergo four depot maintenance availabilities and conduct 14 deployments. Block IV design changes will reduce the planned depot maintenance availabilities to three and increase deployments to 15.

The next major change is the incorporation of the Virginia Payload Module (VPM) in Block V submarines. VPM, currently in development, will insert four additional payload tubes each capable of carrying seven UGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles into the Virginia Class design. The VPM tubes will be very similar to the VPTs integrated on Block III and later ships.

The Navy currently plans to purchase a total of 33 Virginia Class submarines for the Navy but this number could very well increase. The last submarine will be purchased in FY 2021.


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

Virginia Class Production Forecast:

A 15-year Virginia Class production forecast is available through Forecast International's Platinum Forecast System, which includes a breakout of total market unit and value statistics by manufacturer and end-user. This real-time service also includes information on all prime and subcontractors, contract awards, worldwide ship inventories, a complete program history, and a rationale detailing the outlook of the program. A 10-year Virginia Class production forecast is also available in report format through Forecast International's Warships Forecast service.


The Virginia Class Submarine seeks and destroys enemy ships across a wide spectrum of scenarios, working independently and in consort with a battle group and other ships, providing commanders with early and accurate knowledge of the battlefield.

FY 2020 & FY 2021 - SSN 774 DoD Program:

This data is available in Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, a comprehensive analytical database containing historical and forecast budget figures, year-to-year funding comparisons, congressional budget markups, program justification documents, and much more.

Source: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), General Dynamics-Electric Boat,
and Huntington Ingalls-Newport News.

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Warships Forecast:

Complete and detailed information, including production forecast data, is provided in our Market Intelligence Service: Warships Forecast.

Forecast International Budget Data:

With Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, you not only get the latest program news, the DoD funding, worldwide inventories and planned quantities, long range forecasts, but most important – an expert's rationale for all programs and the overall market.

DoD Spending in FY 2014, FY 2015, FY 2016, FY 2017 and FY 2018 + 5-year forecast

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