The Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) in Virginia has successfully undocked USS San Francisco (SSN 711) to advance with the final phase of the conversion.

The USS San Francisco, a Los Angeles-class nuclear submarine, is currently being converted into a moored training ship. Once complete, it will be used by officers and sailors for training at the Nuclear Power Training Unit (NPTU) in Charleston, South Carolina.

The overall conversion process involves separating the boat into three pieces, the removal of and recycling the centre section, and then adding three new sections.

NNSY has already attached new hull sections to the submarine.

Project Superintendent Charles Brock said: “We’ve been in dock for 34 months, so it’s been a lot of effort to get to this day, but it’s exciting to be undocking with more than 90% production work complete.”

Last year, the shipyard converted La Jolla (MTS 701), another Los Angeles-class submarine.

Brock added: “We applied a lot of lessons learned from the La Jolla in areas such as Engineering Safeguard Features piping installation, component outfitting and tank restoration.

“Over the next year, San Francisco will undergo preparations for the final test programme, grooming of the forward electrical systems and spaces for turnover to the ship.”

The conversion is expected to complete next year.

San Francisco and La Jolla will be replacing former submarines that were used as training platforms for the past three decades.

Shipyard Commander Rear Admiral Howard Markle said: “As a vital platform for the navy’s training programme, this conversion will provide a steady pipeline of fully trained and well-prepared fleet operators.

“This long-term investment will pay great dividends for the navy over the next several decades in ensuring proficiency and excellence across the fleet, whenever and wherever our Sailors are called upon.”

In August, NNSY completed missile operational sequence testing aboard the USS Wyoming (SSBN 742) submarine.