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.

David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.

More In Naval
Chinese-Russian task force sails around Japan
A joint Chinese-Russian naval armada has sailed around Japan following a joint exercise in the Sea of Japan, sailing through a narrow international waterway between two of Japan’s main islands.
Eastern Shipbuilding opens new C5I integration facility for offshore patrol cutter
With the offshore patrol cutter slated to get a top-of-the-line C5ISR system, Northrop Grumman and its industry partners will work through integrating the whole system at this spacious new facility ahead of installing the gear onto the ship hulls themselves, to catch any integration hiccups early and save time and money during sea trials.