Last week, the SSN-788, known as the USS Virginia, was commissioned; the Virginia-class Attack Submarine was officially pressed into service on the 17th of March this year, at the Naval Submarine Base New London, in Connecticut. It is of the Block III variant of the Virginia-class, and is the fifteenth ship of the particular classification.
As a new vessel within the United States Navy, the USS Colorado has two distinctions. The first is that it is the first US Navy warship in service in at least seventy-one years to be named after the state of Colorado.
The second, which is extremely significant and somewhat deviates from military standards, is that it controls the photonics masts -- the newer replacement for traditional periscopes onboard submarines -- with the controller of an Xbox video gaming console; other US Navy submarines have photonics masts or periscopes operated by joysticks.
SSN-788 has been recounted as by Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer as a “marvel of technology and innovation.”
These “innovations” are designed to make the Colorado a more effective vessel as compared to the others within the Virginia-class. For example, the bow of the Colorado has been revamped and redesigned, featuring equipment to allow for smaller costs, simplified construction and development, and a larger combat payload of ordnance.
Additionally, the sonar array has been replaced with an improved system, which allows for heightened passive detection capabilities.
Finally, the joystick on other submarines that manages photonics masts or periscopes has been superseded with an Xbox video game controller, signalling two things: extremely reduced production and acquisition fees by a factor of tens of thousands of dollars, and a simplified and easy way to control the masts, especially in the hands of younger sailors who may be much more familiar with the gaming device.
There have been no stated downsides to this implementation.
Following the commission of the submersible ship, Admiral J. Franklin Caldwell, Jr., said, “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.”