Tag Archives: Virginia Class

U.S. Submarine in Asia Trip as Obama Seeks to Assure Allies

 

The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS North Carolina sits moored at Changi Naval Base in Singapore.

A U.S. nuclear submarine is making a port call in Singapore as the Navy showcases its ability to operate in shallow coastal waters after questions about the fitness of its Littoral Combat Ship for use in Asia.

The Virginia-class USS North Carolina was designed with littoral combat in mind, particularly for special operations and anti-mine warfare, its commanding officer Richard Rhinehart told reporters yesterday. It is the submarine’s second visit to the region since its commissioning ceremony in 2008.

U.S. Navy officers in the Pacific fleet have raised concerns that the Littoral Combat Ship may lack the speed, range and electronic-warfare capabilities to operate in the vast Asian waters. President Barack Obama, who made a week-long trip to the region to shore up ties with key allies, has said the U.S. would protect East China Sea islands administered by Japan that are claimed by China and reaffirmed defense treaty obligations with the Philippines, embroiled in a dispute with China in the South China Sea.

“This is not the first Virginia-class to deploy to the region,” said Commander Rhinehart. “This does, however, represent a continued effort by the U.S. to send the best technology and capabilities into the Pacific theater.”

The North Carolina, which has been on its current deployment for four months, is the first class of submarine equipped with a periscope system consisting of two photonics masts with infrared and laser range-finding capability that makes it suitable for littoral waters, Rhinehart said. It can launch torpedoes and Tomahawk land attack missiles, has counter-mine capabilities and a nine-man lockout chamber to allow swimmers to exit, he said.

GAO Report

The Littoral Combat Ship, designed to operate in coastal waters, “might be better suited to operations” in the smaller Persian Gulf, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in a report obtained by Bloomberg News this month. The Navy should consider buying fewer of the ships if its limitations prevent effective use in the Pacific, the report said, following others that have questioned the cost, mission and survivability in combat of the ship.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a Feb. 24 memo that “considerable reservations” led him to bar negotiations for any more than 32 of the vessels, 20 fewer than called for in the Navy’s $34 billion program. The Littoral Combat Ship is made in two versions by Lockheed Martin (LMT) Corp. and Austal Ltd.

Operating in shallow waters is a bigger challenge because there are more objects for sound to bounce off, the mix of salt water and fresh water can cause changes in buoyancy, and there is a greater likelihood of encountering other ships such as fishing vessels, Rhinehart said.

Projecting Power

The U.S. Navy will probably keep buying Littoral Combat Ships because it doesn’t really have an alternative, according to Richard Bitzinger, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore who focuses on regional military issues.

“One of the reason why they’re building Littoral Combat Ships is to give them the ability to project power from the water close to land,” he said. “Asia’s important, Southeast Asia in particular is important, and the United States is going to be demonstrating its intention to stay here.”

Obama Visits

Tensions in Asia have been on the rise as China asserts its military muscle and presses claims to territory and resources. In November, China prompted criticism from the U.S., South Koreaand Japan after it announced an air defense identification zone over a large part of the East China Sea. In January, it introduced fishing rules in the South China Sea requiring foreign vessels to seek permission before entering waters off its southern coast.

China will make “no compromise, no concessions” in such disputes and is ready to fight and win any battle, General Chang Wanquan said on April 8 in Beijing.

China has said central government defense spending will rise 12.2 percent this year to 808.2 billion yuan ($129.3 billion), at a time the Pentagon is cutting back, proposing a budget for the coming fiscal year of $495.6 billion and to reduce the Army’s personnel by 6 percent by 2015. China’s increased budget threatens to end U.S. military superiority, Frank Kendall, under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said Feb. 11.

Counter, Contain

Obama, speaking on April 24 after a meeting in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said a security treaty between the U.S. and Japan covers “all territory that is administered by Japan.” The commitment to defend the area is longstanding and he was not drawing a new “red line” with China over the issue, Obama said.

Yesterday, the Philippines and the U.S. signed an agreement that will boost the rotational American troop presence in the Southeast Asian nation.

The U.S. is seeking to work cooperatively with China in the region, Obama said at a briefing in Manila with Philippine President Benigno Aquino. “Our goal is not to counter China, our goal is not to contain China,” he said. “Our goal is to make sure that international rules and norms are respected and that includes in the area of maritime disputes.”

“We have a lot of regional allies,” said the North Carolina’s Commander Rhinehart. “The entire Asia area is very important and we’re here with our partner nations trying to promote security and the rights of all nations large and small.”

Source – Bloomberg News

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US – Two submarines on deck at Electic Boat

Submitted photo courtesy of General Dynamics Electric Boat
The first module for the future USS Illinois, the 13th member of the Virginia class, arrives at Electric Boat in Groton by barge from EB’s Quonset Point facility Tuesday, June 18, 2013.
For first time in decade, shipyard builds two boats at once

 

Groton — For the first time in a decade, Electric Boat is simultaneously working on two submarines in its main building shed.

The first module for the future USS Illinois, the 13th member of the Virginia class, arrived by barge from EB’s Quonset Point facility Tuesday. It was placed next to the North Dakota, the 11th of the class.

Two submarines have not been side by side in Building 260 since 2003, when EB was building the USS Jimmy Carter and the USS Virginia, the first of the class.

“This is our first step to ramping up in Groton to two boats a year,” said Todd Beardsley, the ship’s manager at EB for the Illinois (SSN 786).

The first module for the follow-on submarine at EB normally arrives after its predecessor is put into the water for the first time. The “float off” for the North Dakota (SSN 784) will not happen until September or October. That submarine is on track for the fastest delivery of the class yet.

“Everything keeps getting earlier and earlier, so we’re ready to go to two boats a year,” Beardsley added.

The Navy began buying two submarines per year in 2011 but the Groton waterfront is where the final assembly and testing of submarines is done, so it is not projected to have a steady workload until 2015. EB is under contract to build the 11th through the 18th ships of the class, with Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.

About 600 people in Groton and Quonset Point are working on the Illinois. Next year, once all four modules are in Groton, nearly 1,000 people will be working in the yard on the submarine.

The arrival of the first module, in this case, the forward half of the engine room, is a milestone, Beardsley said, because major work on the submarine can now begin in Groton. The next task is to attach the reactor compartment to the 50-foot-long cylindrical module, he said.

Cmdr. Jess Porter, the submarine’s commanding officer, arrived in Groton on Monday to begin assembling the crew. The first group, about 35 people, will spend the next few weeks in school in Schenectady, N.Y., learning how to operate the propulsion plant, Porter said.

Porter said being in command of a new Virginia-class submarine is “a phenomenal opportunity” because the culture for the ship is set in the early stages of construction.

“That culture, in large measure, goes a long way toward building that ship to a viable and powerful platform,” he said.

First Lady Michelle Obama was named sponsor for the submarine last year.

Construction on the Illinois began in March 2011. The submarine is contracted to be delivered to the Navy in 66 months, on Aug. 31, 2016. Beardsley said his goal is to finish earlier in 2016 and to beat whatever record the North Dakota sets when it is delivered in early 2014.

Female officers will begin reporting aboard Virginia-class submarines in January 2015. Porter said that if women are assigned to the Illinois, “my ship will be ready to support that.”

Porter, 46, who is from Pocatello, Idaho, took the USS Missouri through the delivery and commissioning process as that submarine’s executive officer. He spent 12 years as an enlisted nuclear electrician’s mate in the surface fleet before being commissioned as an officer and joining the submarine force. He served on the USS Michigan and the USS Connecticut.

The shipyard is a challenging environment, Porter said, but the crew will come away from it knowing “that ship inside and out.” Porter and Beardsley met for the first time on Wednesday so Porter could see the hull section.

Outside of the bustling building shed, EB’s three graving docks are currently filled with three submarines undergoing repairs. Beardsley, who has worked at EB for 14 years, remembers when the Jimmy Carter and the Virginia were there.

“This is by far the busiest we’ve been since then,” he said.

Source – The Day

US nuclear submarine fit for porpoise – Video Clip

AMERICA has a new submarine which is fit for a porpoise.

Or rather, it’s fit for dolphins – two of which appeared to give USS  Minnesota the seal of approval as they spectacularly surfed its churning bow  wave during recent, successful sea trials.

The beautiful moment when the two mammals swam into the 8000-tonne Virginia  class boat’s forward wake was captured on camera and has been shared widely  online by gobsmacked viewers.

The video shows the dolphins leaping high into the air as the huge nuclear  attack sub, launched late last year, barrels across the surface at up to  46km/h.

Two Navy personnel can be seen watching from the conning tower as the mammals  ride the wave, apparently enjoying being propelled forward so quickly.

 

“That is a beautiful sight! That must be like a surfer’s dream to the  dolphins,” one online viewer commented. 

Dr Hugh Finn, a researcher at WA’s Murdoch University, said he’s seen  dolphins riding the bow waves of Australia’s Collins class subs in Cockburn  Sound, off Fremantle’s coast.

“Essentially the dolphins get a free ride from the pressure wave that a ship  creates in front of it,” he told AAP.

“The ship is moving the water for them and they are quite adept at riding the  wave.

“The same sort of phenomenon – including the leaping – occurs when dolphins  ‘surf’ waves along the coast.”

Source – News Com. AU

Submarine ‘Minnesota’ successfully completes sea trials – Video clip

The U.S. Navy’s newest attack submarine “Minnesota” successfully completes first sea trials Monday.

Submarine ‘Minnesota’ successfully completes sea trials

Huntington Ingalls Industries announced the newest Virginia-class submarine, Minnesota (SSN 783), successfully completed alpha sea trials Monday.

Alpha trials are the boat’s first round of at-sea tests and evaluations. Minnesota is being built at HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division, the Globe Newswire reported.

All systems, components and compartments were tested during the trials. The submarine submerged for the first time and operated at high speeds on the surface and under water. The Minnesota will undergo two more rounds of sea trials, including one with the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey, before delivery later this month. Minnesota is anticipated to deliver approximately 11 months ahead of its contracted delivery date.

“This submarine is the result of a lot of hard work by the shipbuilders here at Newport News, our teammates at Electric Boat, and the overall Navy organizational structure, including NAVSEA, SUPSHIP and ship’s force personnel,” said Jim Hughes, NNS’ vice president of submarines and fleet support, in a news release. “It is incredibly gratifying for all of us to see this magnificent vessel operate so well during her first at-sea period.

Minnesota clearly carries on the Virginia-class tradition of continuous cost and schedule improvement while also raising the bar on operational readiness and capability.”

Minnesota, named to honor the state’s residents and their continued support of the U.S. military, is the last of the block II Virginia-class submarines and is in the final stages of construction and testing at Newport News Shipbuilding division. Construction began in February 2008, and the keel was authenticated in May 2011. The boat was christened Oct. 27, 2012.

Minnesota is the 10th ship of the Virginia class of nuclear-powered fast-attack submarines. It’s the third ship to bear the state name, the Associated Press reported. The first USS Minnesota was a sailing steam frigate commissioned in 1857 that served during the Civil War. The second Minnesota was commissioned in 1907. The 7,800-ton Minnesota will have a crew of about 134 officers and enlisted personnel.

Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) designs, builds and maintains nuclear and non-nuclear ships for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard and provides after-market services for military ships around the globe. For more than a century, HII has built more ships in more ship classes than any other U.S. naval shipbuilder at its Newport News Shipbuilding and Ingalls Shipbuilding divisions employing about 37,000 in Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana and California.

Source – Dispatch