The US Navy has christened its new Virginia-class fast-attack submarine, the future USS Montana (SSN 794), at Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division. 

Owing to the restrictions on public gatherings due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the ceremony was held virtually at Newport News’ Module Outfitting Facility. 

Newport News Shipbuilding president Jennifer Boykin said: “Yes, we are disappointed we could not host the normal pomp and circumstance today, and that our shipbuilders and their families couldn’t be here in person to witness history. But as shipbuilders, we know the show must go on.  

“Our work does not stop for a pandemic, just as the navy’s mission never ends. It is our honour, our duty and our calling to keep the wheels of shipbuilding turning, and in doing so, bring Montana one step closer to her ultimate mission of defending the United States of America.”

The submarine is being assembled by over 10,000 shipbuilders from Newport News and its partner, General Dynamics Electric Boat.

Former Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell is the sponsor of the submarine. This submarine is the second navy ship bearing the state’s name. 

The vessel is designed as a flexible, multi-mission platform to carry out anti-submarine, anti-surface, strike, and irregular warfare, as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. 

It can also deliver special operations forces support and participate in mine warfare.  

Construction on the vessel commenced in 2015 under an agreement with Electric Boat.  

This year, the submarine achieved pressure hull complete and is said to be 85% complete. It will be delivered to the US Navy late next year. 

In April, the US Navy commissioned USS Delaware (SSN 791), a Virginia-class attack submarine, to further strengthen its undersea combat capabilities.