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The US is buying 9 more attack submarines for R324 billion. This is what it's like on one of the most lethal subs ever built.

Ellen Ioanes , Business Insider US
 Dec 04, 2019, 06:29 PM
USS Indiana
US Navy
  • The US Navy's $22.2 billion (R324 billion) contract for 9 Virginia-class attack submarines is the largest shipbuilding contract in the service's history.
  • In 2018, the Navy commissioned the nuclear-powered USS Indiana (SSN 789), a Block III submarine in the Virginia-class. Check out the images below to see what it's like aboard the Indiana.
  • For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage.

The US Navy awarded a contract to General Dynamics Electric Boat to build its Block V Virginia-class submarines, Navy Times reported Monday. The contract to build nine boats is worth $22.2 billion (R324 billion), the largest-ever shipbuilding contract awarded by the Navy.

Block V subs are just the latest group of the Virginia-class subs, and all but one will triple the Tomahawk missile load of other ships in the fleet with the Virginia Payload Module.

While it'll be years before the Block V ships set sail, the US Navy commissioned one Block III Virginia-class in February, the USS South Dakota (SSN 790) and is set to commission another next year, the USS Delaware (SSN 791).

In 2018, the Navy commissioned the nuclear-powered USS Indiana (SSN 789), the fourth Navy vessel named after the state of Indiana and the Navy's sixteenth Virginia-class submarine, entered service on September 29, 2018, at a commissioning ceremony in Port Canaveral, Florida.

"Indiana is a flexible, multi-mission platform designed to carry out the seven core competencies of the submarine force: anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, delivery of Special Operations Forces (SOF), strike warfare, irregular warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and mine warfare," the Navy said in a press statement.

Check it out below.

(Some of the following photos have already been released, but Business Insider was able to get a few unpublished photos of the torpedo room and more from Submarine Force Atlantic.)


The Indiana is the sixteenth commissioned Virginia-class fast attack submarine, and the sixth commissioned Virginia-class Block III submarine.

US Navy

Virginia-class submarines are developed in blocks, with each block having slightly different specifications than other blocks.


The Indiana is 377 feet long, 34 feet wide, about 7,800 tons when submerged, and has a 140-person crew. It also has a top speed of about 28 mph.

US Navy

Source: US Navy


Here's a shot of the bow, and the two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes. Each tube can launch six Tomahawk cruise missiles.

US Navy

Here's mission control, which was purposely blurred as the room is highly classified. The sonar monitors are along the top right, while the fire control monitors are to the left (not shown), and navigation is in back.

Chief Petty Officer Darryl Wood

Here's a close-up of the navigation computer.

Chief Petty Officer Darryl Wood

One of the newest features on Virginia-class submarines are advanced periscopes, which are called photonics mast. They can be pulled up on any monitor in the submarine, and on the Indiana, are operated by XBOX controllers.


And here's the helm, which is also blurred because of the classified nature of mission control.

Chief Petty Officer Darryl Wood

This is the office of the chief of the boat, the top enlisted on a submarine. The countermeasure launcher is in the background with red tags.

US Navy

This is the torpedo room. The Indiana is armed with 2,000-pound Mark 48 Advanced Capability torpedoes, which can travel at more than 50 mph on their way to targets. These are some of the most fearsome torpedoes in the world.

Chief Petty Officer Darryl Wood

Here's a close-up of the launcher.

Chief Petty Officer Darryl Wood

You can watch sailors load one of the torpedoes in the video below (starting about minute three).


Some of the enlisted submariners have their bunks in the torpedo room.

Chief Petty Officer Darryl Wood

A stateroom like this one, which is occupied by officers, offers more privacy than other berthing areas.

Chief Petty Officer Darryl Wood

And here's the chow hall, the largest open space in the ship.

US Navy

Finally, watch the Indiana in motion below.

USS Indiana
US Navy

Daniel Brown wrote an earlier version of this article.

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