The newest Virginia-class attack submarine, USS Colorado (SSN 788), will be commissioned at Naval Submarine Base New London, Saturday, March 17. It will be the fifteenth Virginia-class attack submarine to join the fleet.

As the most modern and sophisticated attack submarine in the world, the submarine can operate in both littoral and deep ocean environments, and presents combatant commanders with a broad and unique range of operational capabilities. The Colorado 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 Colorado is a part of the Virginia-class' third, or Block III, contract, in which the Navy redesigned approximately twenty percent of the ship to reduce acquisition costs. She features a redesigned bow, which replaces twelve 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 submarines' acquisition cost while maintaining their outstanding fighting capabilities.

The submarine also has special features to support Special Forces, including a reconfigurable torpedo room which can accommodate a large number of personnel and all their equipment for prolonged deployments and future off-board payloads. Also, in Virginia-class SSNs, traditional periscopes have been replaced by two photonics masts that host visible and infrared digital cameras atop telescoping arms, which are maneuvered by a video game controller. Through the extensive use of modular construction, open architecture, and commercial off-the-shelf components, the Virginia class is designed to remain at the cutting edge for its entire operational life through the rapid introduction of new systems and payloads.

SSN 788 was built at Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut, and is 7,800 tons and 377 feet in length, has a beam of thirty-four feet and operates at more than twenty-five knots submerged. It is designed with a nuclear reactor plant that does not require refueling during the planned life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time.

The submarine Colorado will be the fourth U.S. Navy vessel to bear the Colorado name. The first USS Colorado (Screw Frigate) was named after the Colorado River, the second USS Colorado (AC 7) was an armored cruiser commissioned in 1905, and the third USS Colorado (BB 45) was the lead ship of its class and was commissioned in 1923.

For more information on the USS Colorado and its commissioning, please visit www.navy.mil/coloradocommissioning.

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