US-based military shipbuilding company Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) has held a christening ceremony for the US Navy’s Virginia-class fast-attack submarine, the future USS New Jersey (SSN 796).

The ceremony took place at HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division on 13 November.

The event was attended by ship sponsor Susan DiMarco and other naval representatives and Newport News Shipbuilding division officials.

SSN 796 is the third Navy vessel to be named after the US state. It is the 23rd Virginia-class submarine and the fifth under the Virginia-class Block IV.

Newport News Shipbuilding president Jennifer Boykin said: “The christening is a Navy and shipbuilder tradition that celebrates the hard work and dedication of the women and men who are building this magnificent submarine, readying her for the next phase of construction, which includes launch, testing, sea trials and delivery to the Navy.

“When New Jersey joins the Navy’s fleet, she will deliver firepower for freedom, taking with her the skill of her shipbuilders, the spirit of her sponsor, the courage of her commander and crew and the pride of her fellow New Jerseyans.”

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Construction of SSN 796 began in March 2016 and the vessel’s keel was authenticated in March 2019.

In February, HII completed work on the vessel’s pressure hull.

The US Navy is expected to receive the submarine next year.

In a separate development, the US Navy has christened its 13th Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport, the future USNS Apalachicola (T-EPF 13), at Austal USA’s manufacturing facility.

Christened on 13 November, the high-speed Spearhead-class catamaran USNS Apalachicola is scheduled to be delivered next year.

Austal USA president Rusty Murdaugh said: “Apalachicola’s sister ships are successfully supporting naval commands on the US East and West Coasts, along with forward deployments in the Middle East, Africa, Mediterranean, South America and Asia regions.

“In the coming months, this highly complex, high-speed ship will join the others to support our great Navy.”