Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS), a division of HII, has launched the latest Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN), the USS Massachusetts (SSN 798), into the James River.

Shipbuilders transferred the submarine from a construction facility to the floating dry dock, where it was later submerged and moved by tugboats to a submarine pier at the shipyard for final outfitting, testing, and crew certification.

SSN 798 launched nine months after the US Navy (USN) christened her in May 2023. At the time, according to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, the boat experienced some delays in its construction:

“Covid-19 had an impact because we had such a large percent of the workforce that wasn’t here during the six months in 2020. Many of our suppliers, if not most, were struggling with some of the same issues. Many of our suppliers got off track because they didn’t have [the] workforce,” stated the CRS report, citing a NNS employee.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

The USS Massachusetts is the 25th Virginia-class SSN and will be the 12th delivered by NNS.

The Virginia-class SSN is an advanced stealth multi-mission, nuclear-powered submarine for deep ocean anti-submarine warfare and littoral (shallow water) operations.

The baseline Virginia class design is 377ft long, has a beam of 34ft, and has a submerged displacement of about 7,800 tonnes (t). Virginia class boats are equipped with four 21-inch diameter torpedo tubes and can carry a total of about 25 torpedoes in their torpedo tubes and internal magazines.

These boats are also equipped with vertical launch tubes in their bows for carrying and launching 12 Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Virginia class submarines are being built by a partnership between NNS and General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) – the only two US shipyards capable of producing nuclear-powered submarines.

Since the launch of Massachusetts, the Department of Defense (DoD) also awarded GDBE a $151m contract modification on 23 February 2024 for long-lead time material associated with the Virginia class.

Sustaining the Los Angeles class

Just as the latest Virginia boat approaches delivery to the USN, the DoD added to NNS’ workload on 23 February for the company to provide engineering overhaul services to the Los Angeles-class boat, USS Boise (SSN 764).

This contract modification includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract modification to $1.2bn. Work will be performed in Newport News, Virginia, and is expected to be completed by September 2029.

Los Angeles class fast attack submarine USS Boise returns to its homeport of Norfolk following a regularly scheduled deployment today, 22 December 2010. Credit: DVIDS.

A total of 62 Los Angeles-class SSNs, commonly called ‘688s’, were procured between 1970 and 1990 and entered service between 1976 and 1996.

They are 360ft long, have a beam of 33ft, and a submerged displacement of about 6,900t. They are equipped with four 21-inch diameter torpedo tubes and can carry a total of about 26 torpedoes in their torpedo tubes and internal magazines.

The final 31 boats in the class (SSN-719 and higher) were built with an additional 12 vertical launch system tubes in their bows for carrying and launching 12 Tomahawk cruise missiles. The final 23 boats in the class (SSN-751 and higher) also incorporate further improvements and are referred to as Improved Los Angeles-class boats or ‘688Is’.

As of the end of FY2022, 36 of the 62 boats in the class had been retired.