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US Navy’s $2.6Bn Submarine Losing Its Stealth Coating After One Deployment

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US Navy's $2.6Bn Submarine Losing Its Stealth Coating After One Deployment

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On February 20th, the USS Colorado, the US Navy’s new Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine, came back from its maiden deployment and its stealth coating appears to be falling off.

Upon surfacing, the submarine was spotted with significant cracking along her hull, though she remained structurally sound and the damage appeared to only affect the Special Hull Treatment, an anechoic coating used to absorb sound waves.

This could be due to the long voyage, as well as that it was in harsher conditions – northern waters.

Regardless, given the cost of the technology, associated costs of applying the coatings and the drag caused by uneven surfaces, the significant wear is anything but ideal.

The US, British and Russian navies all struggle with the coating eventually coming off, particularly in colder waters, but the case of the Colorado is rather unique since it happened on its very first deployment.

The submarine costs approximately $2.6 billion.

The Virginia class fast-attack submarine USS Colorado (SSN 788), commanded by Capt. Jason Geddes, returned from a maiden deployment to its homeport at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut.

During the course of sailing approximately 39,000 nautical miles, the crew of Colorado executed the Chief of Naval Operation’s maritime strategy supporting national security interests and maritime security operations.

“I am humbled by the skill, hard work, and dedication these Colorado warriors displayed for our maiden deployment,” said Geddes. “It was an all-hands effort to include the love and support we enjoyed from our amazing families back home.”

Colorado was commissioned in March 2018 as the 15th Virginia-class fast-attack submarine to join the fleet. The crew demonstrated critical navigational and ship handling skills throughout the deployment.

“It’s truly impressive that after only a year-and-a-half after commissioning, our crew displayed the toughness and tenacity required to go to the far-reaching corners of the earth in support of our nation’s interests,” said Master Chief Electronics Technician (Radio) Larry Alger. “We’re ready to get back out to the fight if called on to do it tomorrow.”

Fast-attack submarines are multi-mission platforms enabling five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities – sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence.

They are designed to excel in anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship warfare, strike warfare, special operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, irregular warfare and mine warfare. Fast-attack submarines project power ashore with special operations forces and Tomahawk cruise missiles in the prevention or preparation of regional crises.

The characteristics of the Virginia-class submarine are the following:

Displacement while submerged: 7,900 metric tons

Length: 115 meters

Beam: 10 meters

Propulsion: S9G Reactor 40,000 shp (30 MW)

Speed: 25 knots

Range: Unlimited

Endurance: Only limited by food and maintenance requirements

Test depth: +240 meters

Complement: 135 (out of which 15 officers)

Armament:

Block I–IV:

12 × VLS (Tomahawk BGM-109) tubes

4 × 533 mm torpedo tubes (Mk-48 torpedo)

25 × torpedoes & missiles (torpedo room) + 12 x missiles (VLS tubes)

Block V:

VPM module (28 Tomahawk BGM-109)

12 × VLS (Tomahawk BGM-109) tubes

4 × 533 mm torpedo tubes (Mk-48 torpedo)

65 × torpedoes & missiles

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