Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS), a division of US naval prime HII, has delivered another Virginia-class nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine, the USS New Jersey (SSN 796) to the US Navy.

Christened in November 2021, New Jersey is the 11th Virginia-class submarine delivered by NNS, and the 23rd built as part of the teaming agreement with the only other US shipbuilder capable of producing nuclear-powered boats, General Dynamics Electric Boat.

“It is a proud day for our entire team when we deliver a high-quality submarine like the New Jersey to the fleet,” said Jason Ward, NNS vice president of Virginia-class submarine construction.

“The mission ahead for New Jersey and her crew is clear, and we applaud our shipbuilders for delivering this critical capability to the fleet while maintaining our highest standards of safety and quality.”

Enduring strain on the US submarine industrial base

Against the backdrop of this delivery, the US submarine industrial base has been pressured by the growing demands of the government’s strategic aims on the world stage, namely to deliver commitments to AUKUS Pillar I.

Pressed by maintenance delays and a considerable workforce shortage, Edward Bartlett, the founder and CEO of Bartlett Maritime – a corporation expressly intended to support the government in overcoming the submarine capability shortfall – stated: “While [there are] efforts [that] clearly remain vital and are having a positive impact, it is equally clear that both additional industrial infrastructure and access to an expanded labour pool are needed.”

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For that reason, on 20 October 2023, the administration submitted a request for 2024 emergency supplemental funding for national security priorities that includes, among other things, a total of $3.4bn in funding for the sector.

A new Virginia-class configuration under the 2024 budget

Furthermore, under the US Navy’s proposed budget, the service has requested the procurement of the 39th and 40th Virginia-class boats.

The fiscal year 2024 budget submission states that one of the two boats is to be built to a special configuration referred to as the “Modified VIRGINIA Class Subsea and Seabed Warfare (Mod VA SSW)”, suggesting a configuration that includes a capability for conducting seabed warfare missions.