April 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy will christen its latest submarine of the Virginia-class, the USS Indiana, on April 29 in Virginia, the Department of Defense announced this week.
Vice-President Mike Pence will give a ceremonial address and Diane Donald, the wife of former director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion, retired Admiral Kirkland Donald, will serve as its sponsor during the christening at Huntington Ingalls Shipyard in Newport News, Va.
"The christening of the future USS Indiana brings this technological marvel one step closer to joining the world's preeminent submarine force," Sean Stackley, acting secretary of the Navy, said in a press release.
This is the 16th Virginia-class attack submarine built, and the sixth of the Block III variant. It will also be the third U.S. ship named Indiana -- the first patrolled the North Atlantic and was involved in the Spanish-American War, while the second earned nine battle stars for service in the Pacific during World War 2.
The Virginia-class, built under a partnership between General Dynamics' Electric Boat division and Huntington Ingalls Industries, is a fast attack submarine designed for anti-sub and anti-surface operations. It is armed with torpedoes, Tomahawk cruise missiles, and is capable of mine-laying operations. It has the capability to deliver special forces teams as well, using its ability to operate in shallow waters.
The ships are nuclear powered, which gives it an effectively unlimited range as long as supplies for it's standard crew hold out. Each submarine carries a price tag of over $2.6 billion.
The Virginia-class is expected to be the premier attack submarine for the U.S. Navy for the next several decades and is intended to gradually replace the Los Angeles-class attack submarine.