NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Construction has begun on a new submarine at Electric Boat in North Kingstown.

Electric Boat hosted a keel-laying ceremony for Hyman Rickover, the 22nd Virginia-class submarine, on Friday morning. The event took place at the company’s Quonset Point facility in North Kingstown.

Keel-laying ceremonies date back to the days of wooden ships, when the start of construction was marked by laying of the first timber. That timber would ultimately become the backbone of the ship.

The ceremony comes on the heels of last week’s announcement that Electric Boat is getting millions of dollars from the state, to expand its operations and hire hundreds of people.

Darleen Greenert, who has been named ship sponsor, inscribed her initials on a steel plate that was installed in the submarine. She is the wife of retired Adm. Jonathan Greenert, former chief of naval operations. Eleonore Rickover, the widow of Adm. Hyman Rickover and sponsor of the first submarine named for him, SSN 709, was also in attendance.

Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman Jim Langevin and David Cicilline and other U.S. Navy representatives participated in the keel laying. 

“Hundreds of jobs are going to be added here over the years as we ramp up the building of the Columbia class submarine which is going to be part of the strategic nuclear deterrent,” Langevin said.