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Newport News Shipbuilding launches Virginia-class submarine Montana

Newport News Shipbuilding has launched the submarine Montana into the James River, meaning the sub is now 92% complete — and watertight. It cleared the way for tugboats to nudge the submarine from the floating drydock to an outfitting pier.

HUNTINGTON INGALLS INDUSTRIES/FACEBOOK

By DAVE RESS | The Daily Press | Published: March 3, 2021

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Tribune News Service) — Newport News Shipbuilding has launched the submarine Montana into the James River, a milestone in the years of work building the Navy’s next Virginia-class boat.

The launch last month means the Montana is now 92% complete — and watertight. It cleared the way for tugboats to nudge the submarine from the floating drydock to an outfitting pier.

At that pier, shipyard workers will make final tweaks and refinements to the Montana’s systems over the next several months of testing those systems and of certification of its crew.

Those refinements, testing and certifications are the final step in a process that started in 2015 and that will end with the Montana’s delivery to Navy later this year.

“For our shipbuilders, launching Montana signifies five years of hard work, commitment and dedicated service,” said Jason Ward, Newport News’ vice president of Virginia-class submarine construction.

The 7,800-ton submarine is the 21st submarine of the Virginia class. The subs are built in an unusual teaming agreement between the Newport News Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Electric Boat of Groton, Conn. The two yards each build pieces of the submarine, then take turns in final assembly and delivery to the Navy. Some 10,000 shipbuilders at Newport News and Electric Boat worked on the Montana.

Last year, the Navy assigned a larger share of the work on Virginia class submarines to Newport News, in an effort to the new Columbia-class ballistic submarine program on track. While Electric Boat is taking the lead on the Columbia program, Newport News last year won a $2.2 billion contract to build six module sections for each of the Navy’s first two Columbia-class submarines.

Virginia-class boats are nuclear-powered fast attack submarines that replace the Los Angeles class boats the shipyard and Electric Boat built between 1971 and 1996.

dress@dailypress.com

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