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

The usual public commissioning ceremony was not held because of restrictions on public gatherings due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Developed by Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division, USS Delaware is the 18th submarine of its class.

The 377ft-long submarine features a 34ft beam and can operate at depths of more than 800ft of water. With a top speed of more than 25k submerged, Delaware can operate for more than 30 years without refuelling.

The warship 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 and participate in mine warfare.

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B Modly said: “This Virginia-class fast-attack submarine will continue the proud naval legacy of the state of Delaware and the ships that have borne her name.

“I am confident that the crew of this cutting-edge platform will carry on this tradition, confronting the many challenges of today’s complex world with the professionalism and agility the American people depend on from the warriors of the silent service.”

The keel of the attack submarine was laid in 2016. It was christened during a ceremony in October 2018.

Last year, USS Delaware completed initial sea trials that tested all its systems and components.

The trials also included high-speed surface and underwater manoeuvres.

Delaware’s commanding officer, commander Matthew Horton said: “As we do our part to maintain the nation’s undersea supremacy well into the future, today marks a milestone for the sailors who serve aboard USS Delaware.”