The USS Colorado, America’s newest nuclear attack submarine, was commissioned into service in Groton, Connecticut on Saturday. As the fifteenth Virginia Class attack submarine to enter into active service, the Colorado represents the very latest in submersible combat technology leveraged by the United States Navy. The Colorado itself, in fact, was touted at its launch as “the most modern and sophisticated attack submarine in the world.”

This is an amazing group of Sailors that are outfitted here. Every day we are doing something new for the first time,” said Cmdr. Reed Koepp II, the Colorado’s commanding officer. “Just in the time that I’ve been here, I’ve watch the team transform into a high performance team that is able to operate the Navy’s newest and most capable war fighting ship at sea, in the harsh ocean environments, ready to carry out our mission.”

The Colorado is part of the Navy’s third block (or Block III) Virginia class submarine acquisition program, with roughly 20 percent of the vessel redesigned since the last Block II Virginia class sub, the USS Minnesota, took to the waves in 2013. The redesign was intended not only to introduce the latest in warfare technology, but also reduce the construction cost of each submarine, as a total of 48 are expected to be produced.

Among the cost saving measures employed in the Colorado’s construction was the replacement of the 12 individual Vertical Launch System (VLS) tubes employed on Block I and II Virginia class subs with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs). Each of these VPTs is capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles, but costs significantly less to produce.