General Dynamics Electric Boat, a business unit of General Dynamics (GD), announced it hold a keel-laying ceremony for the future submarine USS Arizona (SSN-803) on December 7, 2022, at its facility in Quonset Point, Rhode Island. The keel laying is a ceremonial event in which the initials of the ship’s sponsor are welded onto a plate to be affixed to the submarine. It marks a milestone in the construction of a ship.

USS Arizona (SSN-803)
VPM firing underwater

The submarine will be the first U.S. Navy warship to carry the name Arizona since the battleship USS Arizona (BB-39), sunk in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. Several armored-piercing bombs struck the ship, including one which exploded the forward magazines. The sunken hull is a permanent memorial to the 1,177 officers and crewmen who were killed in the attack.

«We are proud to observe this milestone in the construction of the submarine USS Arizona (SSN-803), a ship which symbolizes the legacy and courage of those who died that fateful day serving their country, a legacy we must never forget», said Kevin Graney, president of General Dynamics Electric Boat. «The capabilities provided by this ship will enhance the reach of America’s warfighters to preserve our nation’s freedom».

General Dynamics Electric Boat Hold Keel-Laying Ceremony for Submarine Arizona December 7
General Dynamics Electric Boat Hold Keel-Laying Ceremony for Submarine Arizona December 7

The ship’s sponsor, Nikki Stratton, welded her initials onto a steel plate to be permanently mounted in a place of honor on the completed vessel. Stratton is the granddaughter of Donald Stratton, who served on the battleship during the 1941 attack. Badly burned, he was discharged in 1942 and sent home, but successfully reenlisted in 1944 and returned to the Pacific Theater to fight in campaigns in New Guinea, the Philippines and the Battle of Okinawa. He worked throughout life to help honor the memory of Pearl Harbor and those who gave their lives in service to their country. Stratton died in February 2020 at the age of 97.

The Arizona will be the 30th ship of the U.S. Navy’s Virginia-class fast attack submarines and the first to be equipped with the Virginia Payload Module (VPM). The VPM comprises four large-diameter, vertical payload tubes in a new hull section inserted into the existing Virginia-class submarine design. The tubes enable the submarine to deliver a variety of capabilities, including weapons, unmanned undersea vehicles, and other undersea payloads.

General Dynamics Electric Boat is the prime contractor and lead design yard for the Virginia class, which is the first class of U.S. Navy submarines produced for post-Cold War missions. It is designed to be more cost-effective and modular construction enables it to be equipped to perform a wider range of mission capabilities than previous classes. The company’s construction teammate is Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.

Virginia Payload Module
Virginia Payload Module


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 460 feet/140 m
Beam 33 feet/10 m
Hull Diameter 34 feet/10.4 m
Displacement Approximately 10,200 tons
Speed 25+ knots/28+ mph/46.3+ km/h
Diving Depth 800+ feet/244+ m
Crew 135: 15 officers; 120 enlisted
Armament: Tomahawk missiles two 87-in/2.2 m Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching 6 Tomahawk cruise missiles

four 87-in/2.2 m Virginia Payload Modules (VPMs), each capable of launching 7 Tomahawk cruise missiles or 3 hypersonic 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 V

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-802 Oklahoma EB Under construction
SSN-803 Arizona EB Under construction
SSN-804 Barb NNS Under construction
SSN-805 Tang EB Under construction
SSN-806 Wahoo NNS Under construction
SSN-807 Silversides NNS Ordered
SSN-808 (Unnamed)
SSN-809 (Unnamed)
SSN-810 (Unnamed)
SSN-811 (Unnamed)