March 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy's newest submarine, the USS Montana, was formally launched on Wednesday, manufacturer Huntington Ingalls Industries announced.
The 7,800-ton Virginia-class submarine was christened in a virtual ceremony on Oct. 3, 2020, and has since been in a floating dry dock at the HII Newport News Shipbuilding division.
After movement by tugboats to the shipyard's submarine pier, it was launched into Virginia's James River.
With the vessel regarded as 92% complete -- final outfitting, testing and crew certification will follow the launching -- it is expected to be delivered to the Navy sometime later this year.
The submarine is one of 18 developed for the Navy since 2004 in a partnership between Newport News Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, Conn. The two companies, working together, have delivered 18 of the vessels to the Navy since 2004.
When completed, the USS Montana will be the 21st in the Virginia class of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines equipped with Tomahawk and Harpoon missiles.
"Launching Montana signifies five years of hard work, commitment and dedicated service," Jason Ward, vice president of Virginia-class submarine construction at Newport News Shipbuilding, said in a press release.
"We look forward to executing our waterborne test program, and working toward sea trials and delivering the submarine to the Navy later this year," Ward said.