Virginia class (SSN-774 class) attack submarines

Thomas Josiah Chappelle

Oxford, United States

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Artist's Description

The Virginia class (or SSN-774 class) of attack submarines are the first U.S. subs to be designed for a broad spectrum of open-ocean and littoral missions around the world. They were designed as a cheaper alternative to the Cold War era Seawolf-class attack submarines, and are slated to replace aging Los Angeles class subs, thirteen of which have already been decommissioned.

Virginias incorporate several innovations. Instead of periscopes, the subs have a pair of extendable “photonics masts”1 outside the pressure hull. Each contains several high-resolution cameras with light-intensification and infrared sensors, an infrared laser rangefinder, and an integrated Electronic Support Measures (ESM) array. Signals from the masts’ sensors are transmitted through fiber optic data lines through signal processors to the control center. They also make use of pump-jet propulsors for quieter operations.

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