Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) has started preparations for the launch of the new Virginia-class submarine Montana (SSN 794).

As part of this, the company moved the vessel to the floating dry dock.

On 3 October, the submarine, weighing 7,800t, was raised off the keel blocks and shifted using a transfer car system. The whole process took three days to complete.

After positioning the submarine in the floating dry dock, the shipbuilders started working on the final preparations for its launch.

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Montana will be launched into the James River next month.

Following its launch, the ship will be shifted to a pier to perform waterborne test programme and certification of the crew.

Newport News Virginia-class submarine construction vice-president Jason Ward said: “Moving Montana to the floating dry dock is an important accomplishment for the 10,000 shipbuilders who, through the teaming agreement with General Dynamics Electric Boat, have collaborated to get us to where we are today.

“It signifies that the submarine is prepared to start the next and final stage of its construction before going to sea.”

The company started the vessel construction in 2015 and it is currently around 85% complete. Earlier this year, the vessel’s pressure hull was completed.

Last month, the US Navy christened its new USS Montana (SSN 794) at HII Newport News Shipbuilding division.

It will be delivered to the US Navy late next year.

In April, the US Navy commissioned USS Delaware (SSN 791), a Virginia-class attack submarine, to further strengthen its undersea combat capabilities.