Annie Mabus, ship sponsor

Construction on the US Navy’s 15th Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine, Colorado (SSN 788), has been marked with a keel laying ceremony at General Dynamics (GD) Electric Boat’s Quonset Point facility in Rhode Island, US.

US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said: "Here in Quonset Point and in Groton, in Newport News and around the country, thousands and thousands of exceptionally skilled shipbuilders will build the USS Colorado, the most advanced ship in the world."

The pre-commissioning unit (PCU) Colorado is the fifth of eight vessels being built from a third block under contract. The submarine is scheduled to be delivered to the navy in August 2017.

In April 2014, GD Electric Boat received a $17.6bn, multi-year block IV contract from the US Navy for the construction of ten Virginia-class submarines.

As part of the agreement, Electric Boat and its industry partner Newport News Shipbuilding will build two a year through to 2018.

"Thousands and thousands of exceptionally skilled shipbuilders will build the USS Colorado, the most advanced ship in the world."

Construction on SSN-792, the first block IV submarine, started in May 2014. The procurement of the tenth is scheduled for 2023.

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To date, around 28 Virginia-class submarines have either been delivered, are in construction or are under contract.

With a displacement of 7,800t, hull length of 377ft and a diameter of 34ft, Virginia-class submarines can cruise at speeds of over 25k, while diving to more than 800ft deep.

Catering to the latest mission requirements, including anti-submarine, surface-ship warfare and special operations support, the ships can carry the Mark 48 advanced capability torpedoes, Tomahawk land-attack missiles and unmanned underwater vehicles.

Image: Annie Mabus, ship sponsor of the Virginia-class attack submarine USS Colorado (SSN 788), during the keel laying ceremony. Photo: courtesy of the US Navy, photo by mass communication specialist 2nd class Armando Gonzales / released.