Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) has launched the US Navy’s newest Virginia-class multi-mission nuclear-powered submarine Montana (SSN 794).

The submarine was launched into the James River at HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division.

It was submerged and moved by tugboats to Newport News Shipbuilding division’s submarine pier for final outfitting, testing and crew certification purposes.

In October last year, HII started preparations for the launch of Montana.

Since then, the submarine, weighing 7,800t, had been in a floating dry dock after being transferred from a construction facility.

Newport News Virginia-class submarine construction vice-president Jason Ward said: “For our shipbuilders, launching Montana signifies five years of hard work, commitment, and dedicated service.

“We look forward to executing our waterborne test programme and working toward sea trials and delivering the submarine to the navy later this year.”

The company started the vessel construction in 2015. The newbuilding activities witnessed the participation of 10,000 shipbuilders and suppliers from all 50 states since then.

Last September, the US Navy christened Montana at HII Newport News Shipbuilding division.

Construction of Montana is now almost 92% complete and the ship is scheduled to be delivered to the American Navy later this year.

The advanced stealth Virginia-Class new attack submarines are designed for deep ocean anti-submarine warfare and littoral (shallow water) operations. They can operate at ‘submerged speeds of over 25 knots for months at a time’.

The boats are being designed to provide an eventual replacement for the US Navy Los Angeles-class submarines.