HII Completes Launch Ceremony of USS Massachusetts

Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) has launched the US Navy’s Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Massachusetts (SSN 798), into the James River.

The vessel is the 25th of the class and the eighth submarine to bear the name.

A ceremony was held to commemorate SSN 798’s transfer from a shipbuilding facility to a floating dry dock. It was then submerged into the waters and pulled by tugboats to a pier for the final outfitting, testing, and crew certification processes.

The US Navy christened the submarine at HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division last year, with former Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg serving as the vessel’s sponsor.

“Following the christening of this mighty submarine in May, witnessing Massachusetts launch into the river is a source of immense pride for our shipbuilding team,” Virginia-class construction VP Jason Ward stated.

“We understand the importance of Massachusetts, and we will continue to execute with purpose to bring this important national security asset to life and deliver it to the Navy.”

Virginia Submarines

The USS Massachusetts is part of a $17.6-billion contract signed in 2014 for 10 Virginia-class submarines.

The fleet is being developed for littoral and open-ocean missions, further bolstering the US military’s dominance at sea.

USS Massachusetts (SSN 798) nuclear-powered submarine. Photo: HII
USS Massachusetts (SSN 798) nuclear-powered submarine. Photo: HII

These submarines will gradually replace the Pentagon’s aging Los Angeles-class vessels in service since the late 1970s. Compared to their predecessor, the Virginia submarines incorporate advanced integrations of enhanced subsea maneuverability, stealth, and firepower.

Each vessel in the fleet measures 115 to 140 meters (377 to 460 feet) and has a standard beam length of 10 meters (34 feet).

A ship is run by a single nuclear reactor with approximately 280,000 horsepower coupled with steam turbines, pump-jet propulsion, and a secondary motor for a speed of more than 25 knots (46 kilometers/29 miles per hour).

Virginia-class submarines can be armed with Tomahawk and Harpoon missiles and lighter warheads and torpedoes.

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