Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division has authenticated the keel of the US Navy’s Virginia-class attack submarine, New Jersey (SSN 796).

The event was marked by a ceremony that was attended by the vessel’s sponsor, Susan DiMarco, and other officials.

Construction of SSN 796, which is the 23rd Virginia-class fast attack submarine, commenced in March 2016.

According to HII, New Jersey is about 42% complete and is expected to be delivered to the Navy in 2021.

HII Newport News Shipbuilding president Jennifer Boykin said: “We enjoy participating in the Navy’s many traditions. They offer us an opportunity to pause and reflect on our daily work and remind the talented shipbuilders and the crew of the important role we all play in something much greater than ourselves, our nation’s defence.”

“We enjoy participating in the Navy’s many traditions. They offer us an opportunity to pause and reflect on our daily work.”

The vessel is the third to be named after the state of New Jersey.

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The Virginia-class submarines are advanced stealth multi-mission nuclear-powered vessels designed to perform deep ocean anti-submarine warfare and littoral operations.

General Dynamics Electric Boat Division and HII Newport News Shipbuilding are the contractors for building the Virginia-class submarines, which will replace Los Angeles Class submarines.

New Jersey is part of Block IV submarines (SSNs 792-801) that feature design changes to drive down total ownership cost (RTOC).

The changes will help increase the component-level lifecycle of the submarine and enable the Navy to enhance the periodicity between depot maintenance availabilities.

When compared to Block III’s four depot maintenance availabilities, the Block IV submarines are designed to undergo three maintenance availabilities.

Furthermore, the Block IV submarines support increased number of deployments.

With a displacement of around 7,800t, the Virginia-class ships can achieve speeds of more than 25k.