NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) reached a major milestone in the construction of the Virginia-class submarine Arkansas.

The submarine is now “pressure hull complete” meaning all sections of the submarine’s hull were joined to form a single, watertight unit.

“It’s exciting to reach pressure hull complete, because it’s a visible sign that construction has progressed to the point where Arkansas really starts to take its final shape,” said Jason Ward, NNS vice president of Virginia-class submarine construction. “We absolutely understand the important mission ahead for Arkansas and are working with urgency to get this powerful national security asset to the Navy as soon as possible.”

Arkansas is the Navy’s 27th Virginia-class fast attack submarine. The ship is sponsored by the six women of the historic group known as the Little Rock Nine, the first African American students to attend all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, during desegregation.

NNS happens to be one of only two shipyards capable of designing and building nuclear-powered submarines.