WASHINGTON — The last of the U.S. Navy’s eight Block III Virginia-class submarines has joined the fleet, according to a Navy news release.
The attack submarine Delaware didn’t have its formal commissioning ceremony because of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, but it will nonetheless start getting ready to enter the deployment rotation.
The Block III replaced 12 vertical launch tubes for Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles with two larger 87-inch diameter tubes able to fire larger payloads, each housing six TLAMs.
The first Block IV, the attack submarine Vermont, is slated to be commissioned later this month. The Block IV subs primarily add reliability features to the boat that should increase its life span.
The Block V, which was awarded last year, adds acoustics upgrades. Eight of the boats will have the Virginia Payload Module. The VPM is designed to triple the Tomahawk cruise missile capacity of the Virginia-class subs, a move designed to offset the pending retirement of the Ohio-class guided-missile subs, which have a 154-Tomahawk capacity. Each Virginia Payload Module sub will have a 40-Tomahawk loadout.