NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WVEC) -- An important milestone will be reached Saturday in the construction of the submarine Indiana.
The keel-laying ceremony, which marks the official start of construction, will be held at Newport News Shipbuilding. Work began at the Peninsula yard in 2011.
The vessel gets a sponsor, and in wooden boat times, the sponsor's name would be carved into the timber keel. Now, the sponsor's initials are welded onto a steel plate that will be later affixed to the sub. Indiana's sponsor is Diane Donald, wife of Adm. Kirkland Donald (U.S. Navy, Ret.).
This next-generation attack submarine will provide the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation's undersea supremacy well into the 21st century. Virginia-class submarines will have enhanced stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities, and special warfare enhancements that will enable them to meet the Navy's multi-mission requirements.
The future USS Indiana is the 16th of the class will have the capability to attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert long-term surveillance of land area, littoral waters or other sea-based forces. Other missions include anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare; mine delivery and minefield mapping. It is also designed for special forces delivery and support.
SSN 789 is designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time.
Also attending Saturday's closed ceremony will be Vice Adm. Michael J. Connor, commander, Submarine Forces; Stephen Trautman, deputy director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program; Matt Mulherin, president, Newport News Shipbuilding; and Jeffrey S. Geiger, president, General Dynamics Electric Boat.