Australia Navy conducts weapons training with US Virginia class submarine

According to information published by the US DoD on January 12, 2023, the Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Mississippi (SSN 782) completed a weapons-handling exercise involving the transfer of an inert training shape from Mississippi to Royal Australian Navy (RAN) assets ashore and back to the submarine, while moored at HMAS Stirling Naval Base.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Virginia class fast attack class submarine (Picture source: Dvids)

The exercise included the handling of an inert Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) training shape to demonstrate enhanced maritime cooperation and the increased submarine logistics and sustainment capabilities in Australia.

During the course of the week, the U.S. Navy provided subject matter experts from Navy Munitions Command East Asia Division Unit Guam; Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet; Commander, Submarine Squadron 1; and Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Keyport to provide guidance and oversight of the complex evolution.

Before transferring the inert shape, the team of personnel on shore first transferred the loading platform and all associated weapons handling gear to Mississippi via crane to prepare the missile tube for offload. The team of shore personnel held multiple training events leading up to the exercise to ensure that execution was safe and precise.

This was the first instance of a Virginia-class submarine conducting a weapons-handling exercise of this scope where RAN had the lead transfer role. In April, the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Springfield (SSN 761) conducted a similar exercise.

The Emory S. Land-class submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40) was also present for the Springfield’s evolution and held the lead transfer role for the TLAM inert training shape.

Mississippi arrived at HMAS Stirling Naval Base, Australia, Nov. 28 for a scheduled port visit to enhance interoperability, communication, and strengthen relationships among like-minded nations.

Mississippi is one of six Virginia-class fast-attack submarines homeported in Pearl Harbor. The submarine is 377-feet long, displaces 7,800 tons, and is equipped to carry torpedoes and Tomahawk missiles. It possesses the capacity to insert special operations forces into a multitude of environments and battlefield scenarios.

Mississippi is the fifth Navy ship, and first submarine, to be named in honor of the people of the Magnolia State. The most recent USS Mississippi was a nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser (CGN 40) that was in service from August 1978 to July 1997.