Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division has achieved a major construction milestone; 'pressure hull complete' status, by joining all of the hull sections of the US Navy's Virginia-class submarine Indiana (SSN 789) into a single, watertight unit.
HII said that pressure hull complete is the last major milestone before the submarine is christened.
Indiana (SSN 789) will be the 16th Virginia-class vessel. Its construction was initiated in September 2012 under a teaming agreement between Newport News and General Dynamics Electric Boat.
The vessel is now 82% complete and is scheduled to be delivered to the US Navy at the end of 2017.
Indiana sponsor Diane Donald said: “The countless hours of hard work the shipbuilders have put into constructing and perfecting this boat is apparent, as Indiana has now taken on the shape of a submarine.
“As Indiana moves closer to joining the navy’s fleet next year, I look forward to continuing to share this journey with her shipbuilders and crew members.”
The 377ft-long submarine can operate at a depth of more than 800ft, at maximum speeds of 25k. It can also run for 33 years without being refuelled.
The Virginia-class submarines are designed to engage in anti-submarine, anti-surface ship, strike, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations, as well as special operation forces and irregular and mine warfare.
Indiana is being built as part of a Block III contract, while the Block IV Virginia-class submarines will be delivered two-per-year, beginning in 2018.
Image: Indiana reaches pressure hull complete. Photo: courtesy of Chris Oxley.