Virginia-class submarines have the capability to attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters and other sea-based forces. Other missions include anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare. It is also designed for Special Forces delivery and support.
The submarines have a pair of extendable "photonics masts" outside the pressure hull. Each contains high-resolution cameras with light-intensification and infrared sensors, an infrared laser rangefinder, and more.
A versatile torpedo room can accomodate a large crew of special operations forces for prolonged deployments. The class includes large lock-in/lock out chambers for divers.
Tomahawk missiles, vertical launch tubes or large diameter payload tubes, starting on North Dakota (SSN 784), MK-48 torpedoes and unmanned undersea vehicles are among many of the advanced weapons of the Virginia-class.
Newport News Shipbuilding is teamed with General Dynamics Electric Boat to build Virginia-class submarines. Newport News Shipbuilding builds the stern, habitability & machinery spaces, torpedo room, sail and bow. Electric Boat builds the pressure hull, engine room and control room. Newport News Shipbuilding and Electric Boat each perform work on the reactor plant as well as alternate on the final assembly, test, outfit and delivery. The team has been recognized as the best shipbuilding program in the Navy.
There is no margin for error in building submarines. Each frame and compartment is assembled with the detailed care demanded by a vessel that will dive in excess of 800 feet. Even in a submarine's many tight spaces, the shipbuilders work to the highest standard. The U.S. Navy depends on it.