Construction has started on the US Navy's 12th Virginia-class submarine, USS John Warner (SSN 785), with the official keel laying at Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) in Newport News, Virginia.
USS John Warner is being built under block III construction contract and has been named to honour former US senator from Virginia and navy secretary, John Warner.
Virginia-class programme manager captain David Goggins said the event marked a major construction milestone for the submarine.
HII-NNS and General Dynamics Electric Boat-built Virginia-class advanced stealth multi-mission nuclear-powered submarines will be deployed to support deep ocean anti-submarine warfare and littoral operations.
The submarines of the class will also support a range of warfare missions including anti-submarine, anti-surface ship, strike, irregular and mines, in addition to special operation forces support, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
In addition, the submarines provide stealth, endurance, mobility, and firepower capabilities to support five of the six US Navy's maritime strategy core activities, which include sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security and deterrence.
Capable of cruising at a submerged speed of 25k with a beam of 34ft, the boats can accommodate a crew of 134.
The tenth Virginia-class submarine, pre-commissioning unit (PCU) Minnesota (SSN 783) is scheduled for commissioning on 7 September, while PCU North Dakota (SSN 784) will be christened by the end of this year.
Construction on PCU Delaware (SSN 791) is expected to start on 2 September.
Work on USS John Warner is about 59% complete and is due to be delivered to the US Navy in 2015.
Image: Officials during PCU USS John Warner Keel laying ceremony. Photo: Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc.