Huntington Ingalls Industries has launched the recently christened Virginia-class submarine Delaware (SSN 791) into the water for the first time at the company’s Newport News Shipbuilding division. During a three-day process that began last Wednesday, the submarine was moved out of a construction facility and into a floating dry dock using a transfer car system. She is to be 377 feet (115 m) long, 33 feet (10 m) wide, have a maximum draft of 32 feet (9.8 m) and will displace 7,800 tonnes (7,700 long tons; 8,600 short tons). She will be propelled by nuclear power, have a single propeller and a complement of 15 officers and 117 enlisted crewmembers. The floating dry dock was submerged, and the submarine was launched into the James River. Once in the water, the boat then was moved to the shipyard’s submarine pier for final outfitting, testing and crew certification.
“Successfully launching Delaware into the water the first time is a proud moment for the Virginia-class submarine team and the thousands of dedicated shipbuilders involved in constructing the ship,” said Dave Bolcar, Newport News’ vice president of submarine construction. “With this significant key event behind us, we look forward to completing construction and sea trials next year so this great warship can join the fleet and defend our nation.”
Delaware is the 18th Virginia-class submarine built as part of the teaming agreement with General Dynamics Electric Boat and the ninth to be delivered by Newport News. More than 10,000 shipbuilders from Newport News and Electric Boat have participated in Delaware’s construction since the work began in September 2013. This boat is the eighth and final of the Block III submarines that feature a revised bow, including some technology from Ohio-class SSGNs. The submarine was christened by Jill Biden, the former Second Lady of the United States and the ship’s sponsor, during a ceremony in October.
Virginia-class submarines, a class of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines, are built for a broad spectrum of open-ocean and littoral missions to replace the Navy’s Los Angeles-class submarines. Virginia-class submarines incorporate dozens of new technologies and innovations that increase firepower, maneuverability and stealth and significantly enhance their warfighting capabilities. These 377-foot long submarines are capable of supporting multiple mission areas and can operate at submerged speeds of more than 25 knots for months at a time. Following testing, Delaware is scheduled to be delivered to the U.S. Navy next year.