NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The former engineer of a shipbuilding company claims he was fired for raising concerns about the hulls of U.S. Navy attack submarines.

The Daily Press in Newport News, Virginia, reported Tuesday that Ari Lawrence is suing Huntington Ingalls Industries in federal court. The company's shipyard in Newport News makes Virginia-class submarines in a partnership with General Dynamics Electric Boat of Groton, Connecticut.

Lawrence's suit focuses on the problem the submarines have had with their hulls. They sometimes shed an outer skin that consists of a sonar-absorbing material that makes them harder to detect.

Lawrence claims he was fired for raising concerns about procedures for coating the hull. The company says it will vigorously fight the suit. It also noted that the Justice Department has declined to join Lawrence's case.