U.S. defense contractor General Dynamics Electric Boat has awarded Newport News Shipbuilding division, a subsidiary of Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), a contract worth up to $468 million for integrated product and process development for the U.S. Navy’s new Columbia-class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), according to a December 19 statement by HII.
General Dynamics Electric Boat has been awarded a $5.1 billion contract to undertake detailed design work for the new Columbia-class in September 2017. The contract entails a complete design of the new class of SSBNs and also includes engineering analysis, component development, detail planning and technical services. Newport News Shipbuilding will be the new subcontractor for the new class of ballistic missile subs.
Each shipyard will design and build separate components of the new boats.
“This contract leverages the productive partnership we’ve built with Electric Boat in the construction of Virginia-class submarines,” said Dave Bolcar, vice president of submarine programs at Newport News Shipbuilding. “We are excited and ready to do our part to support EB and deliver these submarines to the Navy in an efficient and cost-effective manner.”
In addition, “the contract also includes component and technology development, missile tube module and reactor compartment bulkhead prototyping and manufacturing efforts, and United Kingdom Strategic Weapon Support System kit manufacturing for the Columbia class ballistic missile submarines.” As I reported previously, the British Royal Navy’s future Dreadnought-class will share a common missile compartment with the Columbia-class.
The first-of-class SSBN is expected to cost $14.5 billion, including $5.7 billion in detailed design and nonrecurring engineering costs and $8.8 billion in construction costs. The remaining 11 subs are estimated to cost around $8 billion in 2017 dollars. The Columbia-class boomers are being designed to replace the 14 Ohio-class submarines currently in service with the U.S. Navy. Ohio-class SSBNs are armed with up to 24 Trident II D-5 submarine-launched ballistic missiles fitted with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles.
I previously elaborated on the new Columbia-class’ technical specifications:
According to the United States Naval Institute, the new sub will displace 20,810 tons when submerged — the largest submarine the U.S. Navy has ever constructed — measure 561 feet (171 meters) in lengths, and have a beam of 43 feet (13 meters). This will make the new class only marginally larger than the Ohio-class with 18,750 tons submerged, 560 feet (170 meters) in lengths, and a beam of 42 feet (13 meters). With a complement of 155, the crew size will also be roughly the same on both ships.
Construction of the Columbia class is expected to begin in fiscal year 2021, with the first delivery to the Navy in 2028. The new class of SSBNs will begin replacing the Ohio-class in 2031. The new subs will be designed for a 42-year service life all the way through 2085.