The US Navy’s submarine force is about to get a huge boost, courtesy of the US shipbuilding giant Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII). The 7,800-ton Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Delaware (SSN-791) was finally delivered to the US Navy, ahead of the submarine’s scheduled commissioning next year. In addition to the new submarine, the US Navy also announced plans to build the next batch of the submarine fleet, the Block V of the Virginia-class submarines.

According to The Diplomat, the nuclear-powered attack submarine successfully completed its sea trials in September and was christened on October 20, 2018.

The USS Delaware is the ninth Virginia-class submarine to be delivered by HII’s Newport News and the 18th built as part of the latest shipbuilding partnership between HII and General Dynamics Electric Boat.

The USS Delaware is the US Navy's 18th Virginia-class submarine and the seventh Navy vessel to carry the name of “The First State”. Construction on USS Delaware started in September 2013, while the official commissioning is scheduled on April 4, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware.

About the Virginia-class submarines

The US Navy plans to acquire 20 more Virginia-class submarines to replace the aging Los Angeles-class submarines. This new breed of attack submarines has been designed to operate in the world's oceans.

The ships are reportedly capable of conducting littoral missions, anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface ship warfare; intelligence gathering, reconnaissance, strike warfare, special operations forces support; and mine warfare missions.

The USS Delaware is the eighth and final Block lll Virginia-class submarine in the US Navy’s inventory.

This submarine design features a water-backed large-aperture bow sonar array and two-large diameter Virginia Payload Tubes.

The massive contract to build the Virginia-class subs has been awarded to US military shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries, America’s biggest military shipbuilding company. The submarines will be built by Newport News Shipbuilding, a shipbuilding division of Huntington Ingalls Industries and one of the two major providers of US submarines.

The Virginia-class submarines are expected to provide a less-expensive alternative to the extremely expensive, highly-capable Seawolf-class submarines. Each Virginia-class submarine could cost between $2.8 billion and $3.2 billion, making it's as one of the most expensive acquisitions in the US Navy’s history.

The US Navy taps General Dynamics

According to Bloomberg, the service has reached an agreement with the US defense contractor General Dynamics on a multi-billion-dollar military contract to build the Block V of Virginia-class attack submarines. Under the new contract, the shipbuilder will build 9 submarines, with options to buy the 10th and 11th ships by 2023. The Navy has decided to cut the number of ordered ships from 11 to 9 due to budget shortfall.

However, the value of the resulting agreement wasn’t disclosed to the public, the Bloomberg reported.

The US Navy also gets a new littoral combat ship

In addition to the fast-attack submarine USS Delaware, the US Navy also received a new littoral combat ship. The USS Kansas City, which is the Navy’s 11th Independence-variant littoral combat ships, has just completed its sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico before its scheduled delivery to the US Navy.

The new littoral combat ship was christened in Mobile, Alabama in September and was launched a month later. The USS Kansas is expected to be commissioned sometime next year. Aside from USS Kansas, the US Navy is also working on four other littoral combat ships, which currently under construction, according to Defense News.