Keel-laying ceremony

General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) held a keel-laying ceremony for future USS Iowa (SSN-797), the 24th unit in the U.S. Navy’s Virginia-class of nuclear-powered attack submarines. The ceremony took place at General Dynamics Electric Boat Quonset Point facility on August 20, 2019.

Virginia-class attack submarine

The keel laying of a ship is a time-honored tradition. In the days of wooden ships, the start of construction was marked by the laying of the first timber – the backbone of the vessel. Today, this celebration is modified to reflect current manufacturing methods as well as the cylindrical shape of modern submarines. Shipbuilders and sailors refer to the bottom centerline of the submarine as the keel.

The newest USS Iowa (SSN-797) is being built under a teaming agreement between General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) and Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division wherein both companies build certain portions of each submarine and then alternate deliveries. Iowa is also the fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name. The last ship to bear the name was the lead ship of Iowa-class battleships which saw action in World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars and the Gulf War.

USS Iowa (SSN-797) belongs to the Block IV submarines which incorporate improvements that allow them to spend less time undergoing maintenance. They are scheduled to undergo three major maintenance overhauls during their lifetime, compared to their predecessors’ four, enabling them to perform an additional deployment. The submarines are built under a $17.8 billion contract awarded in April 2014 with General Dynamic Electric Boat as the prime contractor.

There are currently eight Virginia-class submarines in various stages of construction at Quonset Point and one Columbia-class hull. Over the next few years, the site will grow considerably, adding an additional 13-acres of hull outfitting space for Virginia and Columbia class submarines.

 

General Characteristics

Builder General Dynamics Electric Boat Division and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. – Newport News Shipbuilding
Date Deployed October 3, 2004
Propulsion One GE PWR S9G* nuclear reactor, two turbines, one shaft; 40,000 hp/30 MW
Length 377 feet/114.8 m
Beam 33 feet/10.0584 m
Hull Diameter 34 feet/10.3632 m
Displacement Approximately 7,800 tons/7,925 metric tons submerged
Speed 25+ knots/28+ mph/46.3+ km/h
Diving Depth 800+ feet/244+ m
Crew 132: 15 officers; 117 enlisted
Armament: Tomahawk missiles Two 87-in/2.2 m Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching 6 Tomahawk cruise missiles
Armament: MK-48 ADCAP (Advanced Capability) Mod 7 heavyweight torpedoes 4 torpedo tubes
Weapons MK-60 CAPTOR (Encapsulated Torpedo) mines, advanced mobile mines and UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles)

* – Knolls Atomic Power Laboratories

 

Nuclear Submarine Lineup

 

Block IV

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-792 Vermont EB 10-20-18
SSN-793 Oregon EB Under Construction
SSN-794 Montana NNS Under Construction
SSN-795 Hyman G. Rickover EB Under Construction
SSN-796 New Jersey NNS Under Construction
SSN-797 Iowa EB Under Construction
SSN-798 Massachusetts NNS Under Construction
SSN-799 Idaho EB Under Construction
SSN-800 Arkansas NNS On Order
SSN-801 Utah EB On Order

 

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