Photo: US Navy’s 15th Virginia-class submarine enters service
In a ceremony held on Naval Submarine Base New London on March 17, the US Navy welcomed its 15th Virginia-class submarine into active service.
USS Colorado was brought to life by her sponsor, Annie Maybus Mabus, daughter of the 75th Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, and is the first submarine to bear the name and third vessel to be named for the state.
As the most modern and sophisticated attack submarine in the world, the submarine can operate in both littoral and deep ocean environments and presents combatant commanders with a broad and unique range of operational capabilities.
Colorado is a part of the Virginia-class’ third, or Block III, contract, in which the Navy redesigned approximately 20 percent of the ship to reduce acquisition costs. Colorado features a redesigned bow, which replaces 12 individual vertical launch system (VLS) tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs) each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles, among other design changes that reduced the submarines’ acquisition cost while maintaining their outstanding warfighting capabilities.
After the ceremony, Colorado was opened up for tours to the general public, to include the crew’s mess, the wardroom, control, and the torpedo room.
“Our submarines are in high demand today and the expectations for Colorado are a mile high,” said Director of Naval Reactors, Adm. J. Franklin Caldwell, Jr. as he addressing the attendees. “In her lifetime, Colorado will travel thousands of miles undetected to protect our nation and our interests around the globe. We cannot begin to imagine all the missions that she will do and all of the places she will sail, but we do know that colorado’s stealth, her endurance, her combat power, and her speed will ensure that our Navy remains in control of the undersea domain.”
Colorado also has special features to support Special Forces, including a reconfigurable torpedo room which can accommodate a large number of personnel and all their equipment for prolonged deployments and future off-board payloads.
Also, in Virginia-class SSNs, traditional periscopes have been replaced by two photonics masts that host visible and infrared digital cameras atop telescoping arms, which are maneuvered by a Xbox controller.
“I couldn’t be more proud and honored to serve with and for the crew,” said Cmdr. Reed Koepp II, Colorado’s commanding officer. “The Colorado is a gem of an assignment for any submariner, whether you are a first-term, junior sailor or you are the commanding officer. I couldn’t be more proud to lead and serve with the crew.
SSN 788 was built at Electric Boat in Groton, Conn and is 7,800 tons and 377 feet in length, has a beam of 34 feet and operates at more than 25 knots submerged. It is designed with a nuclear reactor plant that does not require refueling during the planned life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time.