China’s aircraft carrier conducts combat drills in South China Sea amid Taiwan tensions

A Chinese aircraft carrier, which raised eyebrows by undergoing overhaul and upgrades just over two years after its launch, held combat drills in the South China Sea with its full battle group, consisting of a flotilla of naval ships, including a nuclear submarine, as Beijing ratcheted tensions over Taiwan.

The Shandong — the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy’s second aircraft carrier and the first domestically built — recently held comprehensive drills in the South China Sea in a group consisting of full combat elements, which analysts said showed that the carrier is becoming ready for far sea operations, state-run Global Times reported on Friday.

Shandong conducted realistic combat-oriented exercises in an undisclosed area in the South China Sea in early autumn to comprehensively test the force’s combat capabilities, the report said, quoting a PLA South Sea Fleet press note released on Wednesday.

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During the drills, the Shandong hosted take-off and landing operations of J-15 carrier-based fighter jets, and practised replenishment-at-sea operations, the press note said.

A video attached to the press note showed that the aircraft carrier manoeuvred in a combat group featuring a Type 055 large destroyer, a Type 052D destroyer, a Type 054A frigate and a Type 901 comprehensive supply ship.

Generally speaking, a nuclear-powered attack submarine would also be part of an aircraft carrier group, the report quoted a defence expert as saying.

Shandong’s drills in the South China Sea with full complement of its combat group comes at a time when China has ratcheted its military drills near Taiwan after the recent visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the highest-level visit by a US official in 25 years, sparking off tensions in the region.

The report on the aircraft carrier conducting combat drills came as a number of US lawmakers have started visiting Taiwan after the high-stakes trip by Pelosi.

On Friday, US Senator Marsha Blackburn visited Taipei and called on Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

ALSO READ | ‘Xi Jinping doesn’t scare me’: US lawmaker Marsha Blackburn lands in Taiwan for 3-day visit

Pelosi’s visit prompted China to launch the exercises that saw it fire missiles and send dozens of warplanes and ships over and around the self-ruled island, which Beijing says will be reunified with the mainland, even by force.

Beijing claims Taiwan a part of it under the ‘One China’ policy and takes umbrage against any official and diplomatic contacts by other countries with Taipei.

China also faced periodic forays by US naval ships, including aircraft carriers and planes challenging Beijing’s claims over the South China Sea and to assert freedom of navigation.

China claims most of the South China Sea. Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims over the area.

The Shandong entered service with the PLA Navy in December 2019 in Sanya, South China’s Hainan Province.

In April it had to undergo its first maintenance and comprehensive examination, upgrades and overhaul, according to official media reports, raising questions over its operational readiness.

Defence experts say that while China is producing aircraft carriers at a faster pace, it is still a work in progress for the J-15 carrier-based fighter jets, which were stated to be too heavy for deployment on aircraft carriers.

China is rapidly modernising its navy, almost launching a battleship every month or two.

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In June, China launched its third aircraft carrier Fujian, which was stated to be the most advanced as it has a catapult system called the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) for the aircraft to take off and land.

The system is used also on the US Navy’s Gerald R Ford-class carriers, according to the media reports.

Both Liaoning and Shandong are equipped with ski-jump take-off ramps, while the Fujian features a flat top flight deck.

Chinese President Xi Jinping who heads the military besides the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) has carried out extensive reforms of the military, including downsizing of the army and enhancing the role of the navy and air force as Beijing set its sights on global expansion with military bases in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.

China has also taken over Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port for a 99-year lease and expanded and modernised Pakistan’s Gwadar port in the Arabian Sea.

— ENDS —

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DVIDS – News – USS Alabama Conducts Crew Change at Sea

U.S. Navy story by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian G. Reynolds, Submarine Group Nine Public Affairs

NAVAL BASE KITSAP-BANGOR, Wash. (May 24, 2022) – The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Alabama (SSBN 731) conducted a full crew change while at sea that concluded May 24, 2022.

This previously uncommon underway change of crew demonstrates how the Navy and its strategic forces have evolved to think, act, and operate differently in order to meet deterrent mission tasking while simultaneously executing necessary ship lifecycle events.

“This event demonstrated our ability to completely change out the crew of an SSBN at sea and in a location of our choosing,” said Rear Adm. Robert M. Gaucher, commander Submarine Group 9 and Task Group 114.3. “The readiness and flexibility we demonstrated today adds another layer of uncertainty to adversary efforts to monitor our SSBN force, and continues to send a strong message to our adversaries that ‘Today is not the day.’”

Each ballistic missile submarine has two crews, a blue crew and a gold crew, which alternate manning. Previously, the crews would alternate and resupply between patrols while in port. The ability to change crews while underway adds a new dynamic of flexibility and sustainability while the submarine is executing their mission.

“This provides an opportunity to keep the nuclear deterrent at sea survivable by exchanging the crews and replenishing the ship’s supplies in any port or location across the world,” said Capt. Kelly Laing, director of maritime operations at Commander, Task Group 114.3. “Our SSBNs are no longer tied to their homeport of record or another naval port to keep them at sea, ensuring that we are always executing the deterrent mission for the U.S. and our allies.”

Alabama is one of eight Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines homeported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor and the eighth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name. The class is designed for extended, undetectable deterrent patrols and as a launch platform for intercontinental ballistic missiles.

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NUWC Division Newport cross-department teams support successful ICEX 2022 > Naval Sea Systems Command > Saved News Module

A recent three-week work assignment led a group of Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport employees to the top of the world on a grueling, productive and rewarding adventure. In early March 2022, the teams began their journey to the Arctic Circle, more specifically, U.S. Navy Ice Camp Queenfish as part of the Navy’s biennial Ice Exercise (ICEX).

ICEX allows the Navy to assess its operational readiness, increase experience in the region, advance understanding of the Arctic environment, and continue to develop relationships with other services, allies, and partner organizations.

Part of that operational readiness is understanding the performance of torpedoes in the Arctic region. Division Newport provided the expertise, torpedo software, tracking and performance data and several team members recently held briefings about their experiences during ICEX 2022.

Engineers from the Undersea Warfare (USW) Weapons, Vehicles, and Defensive Systems Department, Charles Lury, Stephanie Zamorski, Richard Marini and Jason Lemish, provided troubleshooting and guidance to leadership in the command tent and aboard submarines, while a cross-department Torpedo Recovery Team recovered five exercise torpedoes from under the ice during ICEX 2022. Members of the recovery team include Ranges, Engineering and Analysis Department employees Fred Buzzell and Erin DeLucca, Bryan Sullivan and Sean Riccio, of the USW Weapons, Vehicles, and Defensive Systems Department; and Nick Savage of the Sensors and Sonar Systems Department.

The team was joined by other research and operational teams from the United Kingdom, Norway, Seal Team 2 and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The UK team, in particular, was there to observe Division Newport’s Torpedo Recovery Team as they worked through each torpedo recovery.

“It gave me a different perspective of the scope and size of naval exercises,” Sullivan said. “From the various undersea Navy platforms to the aircraft and everything in between, it really gave you a sense of current capabilities of our Navy fleet in an Arctic environment. I was honored to have taken part in the effort as a member of the torpedo recovery team.”

This process also included torpedo flushing and post-fire processing, which was led by Roger Tryon and another USW Weapons, Vehicles, and Defensive Systems Department team comprised of Seth Krueger, Christopher Wharton, Tyler Kapper and Robbie Toth. Division Newport provided further support in the form of underwater communications through the efforts of Sam Gilbert and Aaron Clarke from the Sensors and Sonar Systems Department, and environmental compliance through the efforts of Emily Robinson of the Mission Environmental Planning Program, part of Corporate Operations Department.

“This is one of the highlights of my career and for a lot of the people I travel with it is for them too,” Lury said during a debriefing presentation held on April 15.

The Arctic Submarine Laboratory (ASL) out of San Diego, California, coordinated the exercise, including the Navy’s activities.

“ASL and the Navy have gone through great lengths to make this event as safe as possible,” Lury said. “Sure, there is more risk than a typical exercise, but to date there have been minimal — if any — injuries to Division Newport personnel over several ICEX events.”

In preparation of ICEX 2022, Division Newport’s Torpedo Recovery Team trained the Underwater Construction Team from Virginia Beach, Virginia — including Coast Guard divers who integrated with their team — and the Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on torpedo recovery procedures.

“It’s a team effort to recover torpedoes fired during ICEX,” Buzzell said. “It takes so much just to do the work that we wanted to make sure they were confident in the procedures.”

Members of Division Newport’s Engineering and Diving Support Unit (EDSU) have supported previous ICEX events, as part of the Torpedo Recovery Team, however, this was the first year, that a Division Newport diver integrated with other dive teams to complete an under-ice torpedo recovery. The process for recovering a torpedo in the Arctic is detailed and arduous, which is made more complex by extreme cold temperatures and windy conditions, said Savage, who took on that new role.

“This experience brought my day job full circle and showed me the big picture,” Savage said. “My day job often involves providing engineering dive support for submarines’ towed array handler systems in port. One of the boats I repaired in recent months was the first one we saw break through the ice, thousands of miles away. Speaking with personnel from the ship, and getting a report of no issues since, was a cool feeling. It’s a rare opportunity to see any boat out of port, but seeing that one was pretty special to me.”

To prepare the team of ICEX newcomers, Buzzell made sure they knew what to expect from the exercise, environment, living conditions and, most of all, he stressed the importance of safety.

“The Arctic is one of the most challenging environments on the planet,” Buzzell said. “Every single part of the job is dangerous. For instance, we have to be very, very careful around the holes and make sure to clear the snow around the holes.”

This was Buzzell’s third ICEX and with each event, he applies valuable lessons learned and new safety precautions. For example, specially designed sleds are used to move the torpedoes. By replacing a tripod with a gantry to set the torpedo on the sled, the team saved an hour — an important safety feature when every minute in extreme temperatures adds risk. The team spent nine days in the frozen environment — where the warmest day registered at minus 10 degrees.

When a previous manual method for torpedo retrieval proved unwieldy and potentially dangerous, Buzzell conceived a new two-speed winch process using ballast weights. Working with the Ranges, Engineering and Analysis Department Machine Shop, his idea and sketch soon became a reality.

ICEX 2022 was the first opportunity to employ this new device, which made quick work of the recovery while also making the process safer for the divers and those on the surface.

Buzzell researched the materials needed to withstand harsh Arctic conditions, determining aluminum for the winch and strong, buoyant and lightweight line for towing would work best. The idea is pure engineering and problem solving at work; Buzzell’s design has since been submitted for a patent.

ICEX 2022 also marked the first year that tracking software from the Ranges, Engineering and Analysis Department was employed and utilized. The underwater range vehicle tracking and situational awareness display software was operated onsite by NUWC Division Keyport personnel.

“The system worked well, and we certainly learned many lessons regarding the use of the tracking system,” Marini said. “Great crew, great event and great experience!”

Time is a significant factor in all aspects of ICEX safety. Ice holes can freeze over in minutes, equipment can break, and both divers and their diving gear are at serious risk. To mitigate that risk, divers are the last to arrive on site and the first to leave.

“ASL did a good job of planning and keeping the divers and dive gear warm,” Savage said. “It can be catastrophic if the gear gets too cold and/or freezes. We had one day where external pressures caused the plan to change and for gear to sit on the ice a few minutes longer and some of the regulators froze. It was a time difference of about five to 10 minutes. We appreciate why ASL had those safety plans in place.”

Another important step in the torpedo recovery process is removing the seawater from the torpedo’s fuel tank, as seawater replaces fuel in the tank during the torpedo’s run. The team must quickly remove 8 gallons of slushy seawater within 10 minutes of returning to camp to prevent damage to the rest of the torpedo’s mechanism due to freezing. Practice and good communication allowed for the successful recovery of all five torpedoes and the draining of the fuel tanks throughout the event.

“Every action is meant for safety,” Buzzell said. “It’s a dangerous place. It might not look that way, but it is. Working in the Arctic is like nothing you’ve ever done.”

“It’s like flying to another planet,” Sullivan added. “The conditions are so bizarre that you just deal with it the best you can. You use a lot of creativity and problem-solving.”

Once the seawater has been removed, the torpedoes are then shipped to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska — about 200 miles south of the Camp Queenfish ice floe — for Tryon and his team to process.

Despite the harsh conditions and long workdays, the team has many great memories of ICEX 2022.

“I will remember all the folks involved from various Navy commands all coming together to complete the mission safely and on schedule,” Sullivan said. “We were only together for a very short time and had to become one team very quickly, which resulted in a successful exercise.”

Savage echoed similar sentiments, noting how smoothly everything went with his team despite each of them having different day jobs.

“It was exciting, fun, and extremely memorable to work with such a great team,” Savage said. “There was no sense of complacency and we were constantly looking at how we could work more efficiently not only during the operation, but for the next one as well.”

As for the team leader, Buzzell will remember the way this new team was able to expertly execute the job. 

“They worked very well together and made it seem that they had performed the evolutions many times before,” Buzzell said. “I was impressed with each one of them.”

That is not to say, though, that Buzzell would not do a few things differently next time.

“Next ICEX, I’ll bring three neck warmers and one of those fur trapper hats. I’ll also bring some lightweight insulated coveralls for camp use,” Buzzell said. “There are still some process improvements that will be incorporated into the next event.”

Ultimately, though, it was an experience that those involved will not soon forget.

“Every day was an awesome adventure and an experience that words cannot explain,” Riccio said.

To learn more about ICEX 2022 and see pictures from this year’s event, read “NUWC Division Newport’s executes the Navy’s Arctic strategy through ICEX support.”

NUWC Division Newport is a shore command of the U.S. Navy within the Naval Sea Systems Command, which engineers, builds and supports America’s fleet of ships and combat systems. NUWC Newport provides research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures associated with undersea warfare.

NUWC Newport is the oldest warfare center in the country, tracing its heritage to the Naval Torpedo Station established on Goat Island in Newport Harbor in 1869. Commanded by Capt. Chad Hennings, NUWC Newport maintains major detachments in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Andros Island in the Bahamas, as well as test facilities at Seneca Lake and Fisher’s Island, New York, Leesburg, Florida, and Dodge Pond, Connecticut.

Join our team! NUWC Division Newport, one of the 20 largest employers in Rhode Island, employs a diverse, highly trained, educated, and skilled workforce. We are continuously looking for engineers, scientists, and other STEM professionals, as well as talented business, finance, logistics and other support experts who wish to be at the forefront of undersea research and development. Please connect with NUWC Division Newport Recruiting at this site- and follow us on LinkedIn @NUWC-Newport and on Facebook @NUWCNewport.

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Triton submarine: The ‘salon under the sea’ that dives to 1,000 meters

(CNN) — Stepping off a yacht and diving to the depths of the ocean in a transparent submarine might sound like an elaborate scene from a James Bond movie.

But thanks to new technological advances, such underwater adventures are now very much a possibility in the real world, provided you have millions to spare.

In a game-changing move for submarine tourism, Florida-based luxury submersible company Triton Submarines has delivered the first six-person acrylic-hulled sub that can dive to 1,000 meters (3,280 feet).

Described as “a salon under the sea,” Triton 3300/6 features the world’s largest transparent, spherical passenger compartment, which has a diameter of 2.5 meters, providing an immersive underwater view for those on board.

The $5.5million vessel’s interior space is “commensurate with the cabin of a six-passenger Cessna Citation CJ2 private jet” and its Tiffany blue exterior — specially requested by its owner — “appears to disappear” once underwater.

Milestone submersible

Triton 3300/6 -- the first 6-person acrylic-hulled sub to be constructed

Triton 3300/6 features the world’s largest transparent, spherical passenger compartment.

Triton Submarines

The air-conditioned sub has a top speed of three knots and enough air and battery for undersea excursions lasting more than 10 hours.

While it took two-years to build, Patrick Lahey, president of Triton Submarines says it’s taken a decade to get to a point where it was possible to build a sphere of this scale.

“It’s a very exciting development, because we’ve now proven that we can produce vehicles that will carry six people to a 1,000 meters,” he adds.

“But we’re not stopping there. We’re working on a vehicle that will carry three people to 7,500 feet and we’re continuing with a vehicle that will dive to 4,000 meters and carry two people in an even thicker haul. So it’s an exciting time that we’re living in.”

Demand for submersibles has grown considerably over the years, with more and more mega-yacht owners seeking out the vessels as a means of entertaining family and friends while at sea.

Although nature documentaries like “Blue Planet” have no doubt helped, Lahey credits the early pioneers of submarine tourism, such as US businessman Victor Vescovo, who commissioned a Triton 36,000/2 sub for a 2018 diving expedition to the deepest parts of each of the world’s five oceans, for demonstrating their capabilities.

“The conversation has changed,” he explains. “When we first came onto the scene 15 years ago, the idea of a submersible on a yacht was almost ridiculed.

“People didn’t think it was a good idea at all, largely because their perception of what a submersible was was wrong. They thought it’d be complicated, unreliable and scary.”

According to Lahey, the “early adopters” have proven that subs provide great experiences and are also simple to operate and easy to maintain.

‘Salon under the sea’

Triton 3300/6 -- the first 6-person acrylic-hulled sub to be constructed

The luxury vessel has a 360-degree window and ‘club class seating’.

Triton Submarines

“A submersible can dramatically enhance and enrich the ownership of a yacht,” he adds. “There’s now a track record of successes here.”

It’s clear the development of battery-powered subs have made it possible for underwater enthusiasts to experience the ocean in a totally new way, but what separates this form of diving from scuba diving?

“In a submersible you are actually protected from the forces of the ocean by being inside a pressure resistant structure,” explains Lahey.

“As a diver you’re subjected to the forces of the water and the pressure of the water in a way that you aren’t in a sub.

“As a consequence, the limitations in diving are significantly different.

“Even the most experienced technical divers would probably not want to venture below 100 or 120 meters, that would be considered an extraordinarily deep dive.”

He points out that while carrying a tank and climbing down a ladder requires a certain level of physical capability, diving in a submersible “is like sitting in your living room.”

“You don’t have to be like a navy seal to go diving in a sub,” he says, pointing to veteran broadcaster David Attenborough, who was seen diving in a Triton submersible in 2015 nature documentary “Great Barrier Reef with Sir David Attenborough” as an example.

“That’s what makes it such an attractive proposition for yacht owners.”

In April, Triton delivered a 24-seater submersible Triton DeepView 24 to Vietnamese resort Vinpearl, which plans to offer excursions around the Hon Tre Island in Nha Trang, indicating that a commercial submarine tourism industry could be emerging.
A number of cruise ship companies have also been investing in subs — Asia’s Genting Cruise Lines has at least four ships equipped with submarines supplied by Dutch company U-Boat Worx.

While this is an encouraging sign, it seems unlikely that those of us who aren’t billionaires will be able to share in the experience any time soon due to the “arduous, time-consuming and very expensive process” involved in building a vessel that’s fully accredited.

“It’s a process that takes a lot of time and requires a lot of work and expense,” Lahey explains.

“But we are absolutely committed to delivering subs that are fully accredited. We don’t build experimental vehicles.”

New discoveries

Triton 3300/6 -- the first 6-person acrylic-hulled sub to be constructed

Triton previously achieved the world record for deepest diving sub with a similar model.

Triton Submarines

All Triton submarines are hand built using premium-grade “optically-perfect” acrylic to achieve the clearest views.

Most are delivered within a year, but a completely new model that requires development can take up to 24 months.

The company is currently working on orders for both a seven and a nine-seater vessel.

“In a perfect world I’d like to see a sub on every yacht,” Lahey adds.”That’s probably not very realistic. But one of the things that’s clear is that yachts themselves are changing.”

He goes on to explain that designers and naval engineers are now coming up with concepts focused on providing new and exciting experiences for customers, and submersibles have become a much-coveted accessory.

“In the past, it was more about how exotic and luxurious the yachts were,” he explains.

“Not that you can’t have both. But I do think we’re seeing a trend towards vessels with a higher level of utility and better focus on how capable they are and the experiences they can be used for.”

Meanwhile, owners who originally bought their subs for recreational purposes are now using them to complete marine research, a development Lahey says he never saw coming.

“Human-occupied vehicles are really a great way to create advocacy in the ocean,” he adds. “When you dive in a sub it changes your perception of the ocean forever.”

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This Is How America's Nuclear-Submarine get Resupplied at Sea

The U.S. Navy just tested a new delivery system for supplying submarines while underway at sea—by drone. In a video released by the Navy, a large quadcopter-type drone seen hovering above the deck of a ballistic-missile submarine. A small payload, not much larger than a small backpack, dangled from a line attached to the drone. Despite the gentle rolling of the submarine’s hull, the drone successfully made the drop. The video description read:

“An unmanned aerial vehicle delivers a payload to the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN-730) around the Hawaiian Islands. Underway replenishment sustains the fleet anywhere/anytime. This event was designed to test and evaluate the tactics, techniques, and procedures of U.S. Strategic Command’s expeditionary logistics and enhance the overall readiness of our strategic forces.”


Life at Sea: Navy Submarine

Life at sea on a submarine is unlike anything else on earth. It’s a hidden moving missile silo and for Sailors on a mission, it’s home:

Submariners are highly knowledgeable, skilled engineers and technicians who thrive when challenged. With an air of relentless positivity, they keep our shores safe as the unseen defenders of the deep.


Nuclear-Powered Fast Attack Submarine Virginia-Class ⚔️ US Navy [Review]

The Virginia class, also known as the SSN-774 class, is a class of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines in service with the United States Navy.
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Virginia-class #Submarines are designed for a broad spectrum of open-ocean and littoral missions. They were conceived as a less expensive alternative to the Seawolf-class attack submarines, designed during the Cold War era. They are replacing older Los Angeles-class submarines, many of which have already been decommissioned. Virginia-class submarines will be acquired through 2043, and are expected to remain in service past 2060. Based on recent updates to the designs, some of the Virginia-class submarines are expected to still be in service in 2070.


Name: Virginia
Type: Nuclear attack submarine
Operators: United States #Navy
Preceded by: Seawolf class
Cost: $2.688 billion per unit (FY2016)
Built: 2000–present
In commission: 2004–present
Building: 5
Planned: 48
Completed: 16
Active: 14

General Dynamics Electric Boat
Newport News Shipbuilding

Length: 114.91 m
Beam: 10.36 m
Displacement: 7,900 t

40 weapons, special operations forces, unmanned undersea vehicles, Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS)

The S9G nuclear reactor delivering 40,000 shaft horse power. Nuclear core life estimated at 33 years.

Test depth:
greater than 240 m, allegedly around 490 m.

Complement: 135 (15:120)

Greater than 46 km/h allegedly up to 65 km/h

Range: unlimited

Only limited by food and maintenance requirements.

Planned cost:
about US$1.65 billion each (based on FY95 dollars, 30-boat class and two boat/year build-rate)

Actual cost:
US$1.5 billion (in 1994 prices), US$2.6 billion (in 2012 prices)

Annual operating cost: $50 million per unit
Crew: 120 enlisted and 14 officers

Block I-IV:
12 × VLS (Tomahawk BGM-109) tubes
4 × 533 mm torpedo tubes (Mk-48 torpedo)
37 × torpedoes & missiles (torpedo room)

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

Decoys: Acoustic Device Countermeasure Mk 3/4
We are sure, that all the fans of #MilitaryWeapons will find here something related to their interests.
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Remember that these are not toys 🙂
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Music Info:
“Arctic Expedition – Martin Baekkevold” belongs to and was used under license for the company Scalelab


Inside the U.S. Navy's newest, fastest $2B submarines

The United States is deploying a new generation of submarines, the Virginia class, which can launch tomahawk cruise missiles and deploy a team of Navy SEALs from beneath the surface. Only on “CBS This Morning,” Don Dahler takes you inside one of America’s most lethal defense systems at sea.

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