New submarine class begins sea-testing, delivery well ahead of schedule

2/3/2014

New submarine class begins sea-testing, delivery well ahead of schedule

The newest addition to the Navy's fleet of submarines, complete with all the bells and whistles, is set to begin testing.

The Department of Defense reports that the first of eight new Virginia-class submarines has completed construction and preliminary factory testing and is ready to stretch its legs in open waters. Construction was completed two months ahead of schedule, moving its estimated certification and delivery date up as well.

The new sub, christened the USS North Dakota, is the first of a new sub-section of the Virginia class. It features a host of technological upgrades including digital touch screens in lieu of mechanical controls and "photonics masts" instead of traditional periscopes, the Navy explains. The photonics masts are attached to the outside of the hull and contain high-resolution cameras that modify light sources to transmit a detailed, dynamic view of the sub's surroundings to the control room.

Still, the ship must pass a rigorous three-step testing process before being handed over to the Navy. Everything from its ability to dive and surface without incident to the amount of noise that escapes the dampening in the hull will be under intense scrutiny.

The submarine is being constructed and tested by Connecticut-based General Dynamics.

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