The US Navy has received delivery of the 17th Virginia-class nuclear powered submarine, the future USS South Dakota (SSN 790).
Developed by General Dynamics Electric Boat, the next-generation attack submarine has been designed to provide the US Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the undersea superiority of the country.
The company commenced construction on the submarine in 2013, while the ship is slated to be commissioned with the US Navy early next year.
Once commissioned, the future USS South Dakota will be the third vessel to be named after the US state and the seventh Virginia-class Block III submarine.
The Block III submarine features a redesigned bow with increased payload capabilities, which replaced 12 individual vertical launch tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes, each with the capability to launch six Tomahawk cruise missiles.
This design change has helped reduce the acquisition cost of the vessel while maintaining the advanced defence capabilities.
Virginia Class programme manager captain Chris Hanson said: “South Dakota’s delivery is an important milestone. It marks the penultimate Block III delivery and will be a vital asset in the hands of the fleet.”
The Virginia-class submarines are designed to operate in the littoral and deep waters across the world and are deployed to carry out anti-submarine, anti-surface ship, and strike warfare, as well as special operations forces support, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
On 14 October, the US Navy christened SSN 790 at Electric Boat’s shipyard in Groton, Connecticut.
With a displacement of 7,800t, the 377ft-long submarine has a beam of 34ft and can travel at a submerged speed of more than 25k.