Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Huntington Ingalls Industries has launched the Virginia-class fast attack nuclear submarine USS Delaware at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.
The launching, announced Monday by HII, took three days and involved an elaborate car system that moved the submarine into a floating dry dock.
The floating dry dock was lowered, and the submarine was launched into the James River. The submarine will now be equipped pending the certification of the crew.
"Successfully launching Delaware into the water the first time is a proud moment for the Virginia-class submarine team and the thousands of dedicated shipbuilders involved in constructing the ship," Dave Bolcar, Newport News' vice president of submarine construction, said in a press release.
The Virginia-class is a nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine built for anti-sub and anti-surface operations. It is armed with torpedoes, Tomahawk cruise missiles and is capable of mine-laying operations. It can also deliver special forces teams as it has the ability to operate in shallow or littoral waters.
The Virginia-class is expected to gradually replace the Los Angeles-class attack submarine whose design dates to the 1970s. The submarine has faced a number of redesigns and upgrades to simplify construction and reduce operating costs.
Further expected modifications will include the Virginia Payload Module. The VPM will triple the Virginia-class Tomahawk capacity and allow greater flexibility for installing other vertical launch weapons systems.
The Delaware was christened in October by ship sponsor Dr. Jill Biden, taking the seventh U.S. Navy ship to bear the name a step closer to completion. The vessel is the ninth Virginia-class attack submarine built by HII, and is the final Virginia-class Block III of eight expected to be built.
The Navy expects the sub to be delivered sometime in 2019.