US Navy's ninth Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Missouri (SSN-780)

The US Navy’s ninth Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine Pre-Commissioning Unit USS Missouri (SSN-780) has returned to the General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard for its commissioning, following the successful completion of sea trials.

The Mississippi successfully completed Alpha and Bravo sea trials, during which Virginia’s acoustic performance and combat systems as well as depth and propulsion plant were validated.

Christened in December 2011, the SSN-780 is scheduled to be commissioned on 2 June 2012, one year ahead of its contract delivery date.

The 377ft-long Mississippi has a 33ft beam and a displacement capacity of 7,800t, while being capable of diving to depths in excess of 800ft and cruising at speeds of 25k while submerged.

Equipped with 12 vertical missile launch tubes and four 533mm torpedo tubes, the submarine has the capacity to fire up to 26 mk48 ADCAP mod 6 heavyweight torpedoes and sub harpoon anti-ship missiles from the 21in torpedo tubes.

Designed to excel in anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship warfare, strike warfare, the submarine can also be used to perform special operations, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, irregular warfare and mine warfare missions.

USS Mississippi is also capable of supporting the core capabilities of maritime strategy, sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security and deterrence.

The Virginia-class submarines are integrated with Northrop Grumman-built AN/WLY-1 acoustic countermeasures system to provide full spectrum radar processing, automatic threat warning and situation assessment.

The submarines are optimised for maximum technological and operational flexibility and will serve the nation’s defence with their stealth, firepower and unlimited endurance.

Electric Boat, together with Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, has received contracts to produce a total of 18 Virginia-class submarines as part of a planned 30-ship deal between the two shipyards.

Image: The ninth Virginia Class attack submarine USS Mississippi transits Thames River during sea trials. Photo: Lt. j.g. Jeffrey Prunera.