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US Navy commissions new Virginia-class attack submarine

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USS John Warner at Naval Station Norfolk during its commissioning ceremony. A US Navy photo

NORFOLK (BNS): The US Navy has commissioned the 12th Virginia-class attack submarine into its fleet on August 1.

The new vessel, USS John Warner (SSN 785), joined the Navy during an official ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia.

John Warner is the second of eight Block III Virginia-class submarines to be built. The Block III submarines are built with new Virginia payload tubes designed to lower costs and increase missile-firing payload possibilities, according to a Navy release.

The first 10 Block I and Block II Virginia-class submarines have 12 individual 21-inch diameter vertical launch tubes able to fire Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMS).

The Block III submarines are built with two-larger 87-inch diameter tubes able to house six TLAMS each.

The submarine can operate in both littoral and deep ocean environments and presents combatant commanders with a broad and unique range of operational capabilities.

As a flexible, multi-mission platform, John Warner is designed to carry out the seven core competencies of the submarine force: anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; delivery of special operations forces; strike warfare; irregular warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and mine warfare.

The submarine is 7,800 tonne, 377 feet long, has a 34-foot beam, and will be able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged.

Built with a reactor plant, the submarine will operate for 33 years without ever being refuelled.

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