Virginia-class submarine South Dakota to be commissioned on February 2

US Department of Defense file image
US Department of Defense file image – Conceptual drawing of a Virginia-class submarine

The US Navy’s newest fast attack submarine, USS South Dakota, will be commissioned on February 2, 2019, as the seventeenth Virginia-class submarine to join the fleet.

Designed to operate in both coastal and deep-ocean environments, South Dakota will be able to conduct a broad range of missions including anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface ship warfare (ASuW), strike warfare, special operations forces (SOF) support, intelligence gathering, irregular warfare, and mine warfare.

South Dakota is part of the Virginia­-class’ Block III contract, in which the navy redesigned approximately 20 per cent of the ship to reduce acquisition costs.

South Dakota features a redesigned bow, which replaces 12 individual Vertical Launch System (VLS) tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs) each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles, among other design changes that reduced the submarine’s acquisition cost while maintaining warfighting capabilities.

The submarine has special features to support SOF, including a reconfigurable torpedo room which can accommodate a large number of SOF personnel and their equipment for prolonged deployments and future off-board payloads. Also, traditional periscopes have been replaced by two photonics masts that house visible and infrared digital cameras atop telescoping arms.

Built by General Dynamics Electric Boat, the seventeenth Virginia-class submarine will be the third US Navy ship and the first submarine to be named after the fortieth US state.

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