The Virginia Class North Carolina (SSN 777) on August 31 saw the completion of its pressure hull. This marked the completion of final welds that join sections of the cigar-shaped hull into a single unit that protects the crew and equipment from sea pressure. General Dynamic’s Electric Boat (GDEB) and Northrop Grumman Newport News
(NGNN) jointly build Virginia Class submarines. Each shipbuilder constructs
sections of the ship, while final assembly, outfitting, test and delivery are alternated between them. GDEB has already delivered USS Virginia (SSN 774) under the co-production arrangement and will deliver Hawaii (SSN 776) this coming winter. NGNN delivered Texas in June 2006 and is scheduled to deliver North Carolina in the spring of 2008 when it will become the fourth submarine of the Virginia Class to join the fleet. The Navy has six other Virginia Class submarines under contract, and all are in various phases of construction. The Navy plans to build a total of 30 Virginia Class attack submarines to replace the aging Los Angeles Class submarines.