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Virginia Class attack submarine New Jersey completes alpha sea trials

Virginia-class attack submarine New Jersey (SSN 796). Photo: Ashley Cowan/HII.

The US Navy’s Virginia Class attack submarine New Jersey has completed initial sea trials.

The US Navy’s Virginia Class attack submarine New Jersey has completed initial sea trials.

New Jersey (SSN 796) spent several days at sea testing critical onboard systems and components, according to a statement from US military shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) on 29 February.

The testing included submerging the submarine for the first time and conducting high-speed manoeuvre operations while on the surface and submerged. The Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division will continue testing before delivering the boat to the US Navy.

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“Taking New Jersey out for the first time is a significant milestone and the first major test of the submarine’s capabilities at sea,” according to Jason Ward, NNS Virginia Class submarine construction vice-president.

“Both New Jersey and her crew performed exceptionally well. This was truly a team effort between shipbuilders, thousands of suppliers around the country and the crew.

“We look forward to delivering New Jersey to the Navy soon so it can begin its service to our nation.”

The New Jersey, as the 23rd Virginia class submarine and first submarine designed with gender integration modification, was christened in November 2021 and is scheduled to be the 11th delivered by NNS.

In December 2023, the US Congress passed a 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and authorised the transfer of three Virginia Class submarines to Australia for the first time in US history.

The NDAA seeks to establish a national exemption for Australia and the United Kingdom from US defence export control licensing and adds Australia and the United Kingdom to the US Defense Production Act.

Specifically, the NDAA authorises two in-service and one off the production line of Virginia Class submarine to Australia to ensure there is no gap in Australia’s critical submarine capability in the lead-up to delivering Australian-built SSN-AUKUS from the early 2040s. Australia will retain the option to seek congressional approval for the purchase of up to two or more Virginia Class submarines.

The act authorises the maintenance of US submarines by Australians in Australia to coincide with increased port visits by UK and US nuclear-powered submarines and a rotational presence from as early as 2027 under Submarine Rotational Force West. The most complex maintenance activity on a US nuclear-powered submarine in Australia to date is planned at HMAS Stirling in the second half of 2024.

In addition to the initial US Senate approval, the US House of Representatives also approved the transfer of submarines to Australia.

Robert Dougherty

Robert Dougherty

Robert is a senior journalist who has previously worked for Seven West Media in Western Australia, as well as Fairfax Media and Australian Community Media in New South Wales. He has produced national headlines, photography and videography of emergency services, business, community, defence and government news across Australia. Robert graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, Majoring in Public Relations and Journalism at Curtin University, attended student exchange program with Fudan University and holds Tier 1 General Advice certification for Kaplan Professional. Reach out via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via LinkedIn.
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