Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) has launched the US Navy’s Block IV Virginia-class attack submarine, the future USS New Jersey (SSN 796).

The 23rd submarine was launched into the James River for the first time at HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division.

The company moved New Jersey to the shipyard’s submarine pier with the help of tugboats. It will now undergo final testing, outfitting and crew certification.

HII Newport News Shipbuilding Virginia-class submarine construction vice-president Jason Ward said: “Achieving this construction milestone is a very rewarding event to our shipbuilding team.

“Our shipbuilders and suppliers have dedicated years of hard work to this critical capability that will maintain our customer’s undersea superiority.

“We now look forward to executing our waterborne test programme and working toward sea trials so we can deliver to the Navy.”

Newport News Shipbuilding division commenced construction of the submarine in March 2016, under a teaming agreement with General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB).

Around 10,000 shipbuilders and suppliers from all 50 states were involved in the construction of the vessel.

According to the company, approximately 92% of the work related to New Jersey is complete.

The 7,800t submarine was christened by the US Navy during a ceremony in November last year.

The fast-attack nuclear-powered submarines are designed to perform a wide range of littoral and open-water missions.

The Virginia-class will replace the US Navy’s retired Los Angeles-class submarines.

Designed with various latest technologies, the submarine has increased stealth, manoeuvrability and firepower capabilities. It can operate at a speed of 25 knots.