Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) is set to lay the keel of the US Navy's newest Virginia Class attack submarine, Delaware (SSN 791), tomorrow at Newport News Shipbuilding.
Sponsored by Dr Jill Biden, wife of US vice-president Joe Biden, the contract to build the fast-attack submarine was awarded to HII in partnership with the Electric Boat division of General Dynamics in 2008.
The 377ft-long submarine is an advanced stealth multi-mission nuclear-powered submarine for deep ocean anti-submarine warfare and littoral (shallow water) operations.
The vessels will be propelled by the GE pressure water reactor S9G, two turbine engines with one shaft, and a United Defense pump jet propeller, providing 29.84MW
The submarine is fitted with modular isolated deck structures, for example the submarine's command centre will be installed as one single unit resting on cushioned mounting points. The submarine's control suite is equipped with computer touch screens.
The submarine is equipped with 12 vertical missile launch tubes and four 533mm torpedo tubes. The vertical launching system has the capacity to launch 16 Tomahawk submarine-launched cruise missiles (SLCM) in a single salvo.
The US Navy has a total requirement of 30 Virginia Class submarine.
The next two submarines, SSN 792 and SSN 793, are named Vermont and Oregon, respectively.
Image: An artist's impression of Virginia class submarine Delaware SSN 791. Photo: courtesy of U.S. D.O.D. graphic by Ron Stern. (RELEASED).