The Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarines were established at the turn of the century and currently (2018) number some 16 boats of the originally planned sixty-six. The clas was developed as a cost-effective alternative to the highly-advanced, though hugely expensive, "Seawolf" model - just three of these were completed of the planned twenty-nine vessels. One of the newest of the Virginia-class boats is USS Indiana (SSN-789) - and all-modern attack platform to become a critical fixture of United States Navy (USN) plans going forward.
USS Indiana's built contract was awarded to Newport News Shipbuilding (Huntington Ingalls Industries/Electric Boat, General Dynamics) on December 22nd, 2008 and her keel was laid down sometime later on May 16th, 2015. She was launched on June 9th, 2017 and officially commissioned into USN service on September 29th, 2018. She homeports out of Groton, Connecticut giving her quick access to Atlantic waters. Her design includes the Block III changes that incorporated the bow and Vertical Launch System (VLS) used in the Ohio-class submarines.
As completed, the submarine displaces 7,800 tons and has a length of 377 feet with a beam of 34 feet. It is powered by a General Electric S9G series water-cooled nuclear reactor giving it unprecedented performance underwater and essentially unlimited operational ranges. Undersea going speeds can reach 25 knots. The streamlined hull is tested to depths of 800 feet (240 meters). Aboard is a crew of 134 officers and sailors.
Armament is 4 x 533mm bow-facing torpedo tubes supporting the Mk 48 series torpedo family. Up to 37 reloads can be carried. Perhaps more important is Indiana's support of the "Tomahawk" BGM-109 land-attack cruise missile of which twelve can be launched from the installed VLS giving the submarine a ferocious surface-to-surface attack quality. Beyond this the submarine relies on its acoustic- and radar-reducing design as well as onboard decoy and electronics to survive in the deep blue sea.
Her overall hull appearance is consisted with the class: rounded nose cap, hull-mounted diving planes, forward-set sail, raised dorsal section (aft of sail) for the VLS fit, and tapered end. At the stern are the control planes and a shrouded, multi-bladed propeller unit. The nuclear powerpack drives power to this single shaft.
USS Indiana (SSN-789) remains in active service as of this writing (2018).