Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS), a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries (HHI), has achieved a milestone in the construction of the US Navy's Virginia-class submarine Indiana (SSN 789), with the keel laying ceremony.
Construction on this US Navy underwater vessel started in September 2012.
NNS is working in collaboration with General Dynamics (GD) Electric Boat to build the vessel's bow and stern sections, in addition to the auxiliary machinery room (AMR) and the habitability and weapons sections.
Submarines programme executive officer rear admiral David Johnson said: "The Indiana keel laying is an important construction milestone for us and our shipbuilding partners.
"This ceremony continues to demonstrate the collaboration between the navy and our partners to ensure we are building a capable and affordable ship to defend our country."
The NNS has completed 48% construction of the submarine, which is expected to be delivered in 2017.
With a displacement of 7,800t, hull length of 377ft, and a diameter of 34ft, the Virginia-class submarines offer maximum cruise speed of more than 25k. The vessels are also capable of diving to more than 800ft deep, remaining submerged for approximately three months at a time.
The submarines can be equipped with Mark 48 advanced capability torpedoes, Tomahawk land-attack missiles and unmanned underwater vehicles, as well as accommodating the latest mission requirements, including anti-submarine, surface-ship warfare, and special operations support.
Indiana represents the 16th submarine of the Virginia class and the sixth of the eight ship Block III construction contract. The US Navy has ordered a total of 28 Virginia-class submarines so far.
The navy has already taken delivery of the first of eight Block III Virginia class vessels, the PCU North Dakota (SSN 784) submarine.
Image: Guests at the keel-laying ceremony of Indiana submarine, which is approximately 48% complete and scheduled for delivery in 2017. Photo: courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries by Ricky Thompson / Released.