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Submarine Arkansas reaches ‘pressure hull complete' milestone

The US Navy is worried about Virginia-class submarine construction delivery rates. (Janes/Michael Fabey)

Virginia-class attack submarine Arkansas (SSN 800) is now “pressure hull complete” at HII's Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) in Virginia, HII confirmed on 27 September.

Pressure hull construction of the submarine was completed when all the hull sections were joined to form a single, watertight unit, HII noted in a statement.

“It's a visible sign that construction has progressed to the point where Arkansas really starts to take its final shape,” Jason Ward, NNS vice-president of Virginia-class submarine construction, said in a statement.

Arkansas is the US Navy's 27th Virginia-class fast-attack submarine.

The milestone comes in the wake of the 25 September Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, Navy Virginia-Class Submarine Program and AUKUS Submarine Proposal: Background and Issues for Congress , which noted possible concerns about the ability of the submarine construction industrial base to execute the work associated with procuring two Virginia Payload Module (VPM)-equipped Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) plus one Columbia-class strategic submarine per year (a procurement rate referred to in short as 2+1) from the mid-2020s to the mid-2030s.

“Policymakers and other observers have expressed concern about the industrial base's capacity for executing such a workload without encountering bottlenecks or other production problems in one or both of these programs,” the CRS reported.

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