To celebrate completion of the Pressure Hull the shipyard and crew gathered to sign a banner to commemorate this significant construction achievement in May 2008.
May 2008 Update:
'Pressure Hull Complete' The Virginia-class sub's four hull sections were recently joined together to form a single, air-tight unit. (NEWPORT NEWS DAILY PRESS 20 MAY 08)...Peter Frost NEWPORT NEWS - The next nuclear-powered submarine Northrop Grumman Corp. will deliver to the U.S. Navy passed a key construction milestone Sunday as workers completed the final hull welds on the New Mexico. The process, called "pressure hull complete," means the submarine's four hull sections have been joined together to form a single, air-tight unit. New Mexico , the sixth boat of the Virginia class, is scheduled to be christened later this year in Newport News and handed over to the Navy in 2009. The sub is expected to be finished eight months ahead of schedule, Northrop officials say. "That's a testament to our shipbuilders who have taken ownership of our goals and are involved in process improvements, which allow us to meet our quality, cost and schedule commitments," Northrop's vice president of the submarine program, Becky Stewart, said in a release. The fast-attack sub will cost an estimated $2.36 billion, according to the Navy's 2009 budget, about 4.6 percent higher than its original contract. Northrop and its shipbuilding partner, General Dynamics Electric Boat in Connecticut, assemble different modules of submarines and take turns on final assembly and delivery. This year, the partners wrapped up construction on the first group of four subs: the Virginia, Texas, Hawaii and North Carolina. Construction of six more boats is well under way, with the next-in-class New Hampshire set to be handed over to the Navy this year by Electric Boat.
As part of the Pressure Hull Complete event there was a special banner signing by yardworkers and the crew. Many photos were taken. If you go to this link, http://www.nn.northropgrumman.com/vcs/ssn779phc/ , you can see some of them in a slide show. One of the banner signers is a Mrs. Delgado of Taos, NM, a foreman on SSN'779's construction. CDR Dain said there have been three passes on the final weld. While more are needed, the shipyard decided to claim PHC. There are also two holes for personnel access and utilities, so the NEW MEXICO is not seaworthy yet.