General Dynamics Electric Boat is set to christen the US Navy's newest Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine Colorado (SSN-788) at its shipyard in Groton, Connecticut, this weekend.

The fourth vessel to be commissioned with the name, Colorado is the fifth of eight vessels being built under contract, and is the 15th Virginia-class submarine of the US navy.

Construction of the vessel started in 2015 and will be commissioned in 2017.

"The christening of the future USS Colorado is an example of our enduring partnership with our nation's shipbuilders."

US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said: “The christening of the future USS Colorado is an example of our enduring partnership with our nation's shipbuilders, and this ceremony marks a milestone along the journey to add another submarine to our navy fleet; a fleet that will reach more than 300 ships by 2019.

“Colorado and its crew will, for decades to come, carry the American spirit and the name of this great state around the world as a testament to the hard work and patriotism of those who built SSN 788 and the people who call Colorado home.”

Built under a teaming agreement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), the Virginia-class submarines are being developed as unobtrusive, non-provocative and connected with land, air, sea, and space-based assets.

With a displacement capacity of 7,800t, the 377ft-long submarines have a beam of 34ft, can cruise at a submerged speed of 25k, and can carry a crew of 134.

Equipped with 12 vertical missile launch tubes and four 533mm torpedo tubes, the submarines are capable of firing up to 26 MK48 ADCAP Mod 6 heavyweight torpedoes, and sub Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

The stealth multi-mission submarines are built with a nuclear reactor that does not require refuelling during their planned life.

To date, a total of 28 Virginia-class submarines have been delivered, and are under construction or under contract.

Image: Colorado passes her pressure hull complete milestone. Photo: courtesy of USS Colorado Commissioning Committee.