Keel laid for US Navy’s nuclear-powered attack submarine

On 11 December 2020, Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division hosted a keel authentication ceremony for the US Navy’s Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine Massachusetts (SSN 798).

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was held virtually, without an audience.

“Today’s event is a significant milestone in the life of the boat because it is the official construction kickoff,” Jennifer Boykin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding, commented.

Massachusetts keel laying ceremony. Photo: HII

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, is the ship’s sponsor. In a pre-recorded video message, Sandberg etched her initials onto a metal plate, signifying the keel of SSN 798 as being “truly and fairly laid.”

Ronnie Payne, a master shipbuilder who has worked on every Virginia-class submarine built at Newport News, then traced Sandberg’s initials with a welding torch at the company’s Supplemental Module Outfitting Facility. The metal plate will remain affixed to the ship throughout its life.

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Massachusetts is the 25th Virginia-class fast attack submarine being built under the teaming agreement with General Dynamics Electric Boat. It belongs to the Block IV Virginia-class submarines encompassing ten units.

Construction began in March 2017 and is approximately 50% complete. The boat is scheduled for delivery to the US Navy in 2023.

Photo: HII