The US Navy’s Virginia Class submarines have been awarded the highest possible, being ranked ‘operationally effective’ and ‘operationally suitable’ by the navy’s independent operational test agency Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force (COTF).

The submarines were awarded the rankings after a one-year initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) period conducted by COTF.

COTF completed the IOT&E in March 2009 and used the first five submarines of the class, USS Virginia (SSN 774), USS Texas (SSN 775), USS Hawaii (SSN 776), USS North Carolina (SSN 777) and USS New Hampshire (SSN 778).

The evaluation was based on the warfighting capabilities in operationally realistic and demanding scenarios across its seven mission areas those include anti-submarine, naval special warfare, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, battle group support and mine warfare.

The evaluation also included operations with a navy carrier strike group in a major naval exercise simulated combat operations against surface ships and submarines.