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Navy scrambles after subs shed stealthy coating

KITTERY, Maine (AP) -- The USS Virginia shed pieces of its sonar-absorbent skin while at sea, necessitating repairs that'll be made during a 14-month overhaul at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine.

The Navy acknowledges that there have been problems with the special coating that helps to make the Virginia and other nuclear-powered attack submarines in that class stealthy. But the Naval Sea Systems Command says there has been no measurable impact on performance.

The Navy says the most serious problems were limited to three of the first four subs in the class.

Spokesman Alan Baribeau says improvements in the application process have substantially reduced problems on newer versions of the submarine. There are now seven submarines in that class on duty.