NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. -- The keel of the nation's 17th Virginia-class attack submarine named for South Dakota is being laid at the manufacturing plant for General Dynamics' Electric Boat.
The milestone is being marked Monday at a Rhode Island shipyard.
Deanie Dempsey is the ship's sponsor. She's the wife of retired U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In a Navy tradition, she is expected to write her initials on a metal plate, which will be made permanent by a welder and later mounted on the submarine.
The submarine doesn't have a traditional keel running the length of the ship. It's built in modules.
Senior naval officers and politicians are attending.
Groton, Connecticut-based Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia build attack submarines under a teaming agreement.