General Dynamics Electric Boat Awarded $869 Million for U.S. Navy Columbia Class SSBN Program

General Dynamics Electric Boat Corp. (GDEB) is awarded a contract modification, worth around $869 million, for the U.S. Navy’s Columbia Class fleet ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) program.

The modification for the contract N00024-17-C-2117 was awarded by the Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA). It includes continued design completion, engineering work, affordability studies and design support efforts for the Columbia Class SSBN program.

If all the option is exercised, the cumulative value of this contract will increase to $9.5 billion.

The contract work will be performed in Groton, Connecticut (41%); Quonset Point, Rhode Island (14%); and Newport News, Virginia (2%), with other efforts performed at various sites throughout the U.S. (43%). Work is expected to be complete by December 2031.

The contract modification includes a fully priced option for the construction of the first submarine of the class USS Columbia (SSBN-826) and the second boat SSBN 827, and associated design and engineering support. For SSBN 827, the modification covers advance procurement, advance construction and subsequent fiscal 2024 construction of SSBN 827. This option is required to support October 2020 construction start of the SSBN 826.

Specific effort includes design completion associated with SSBN 827 ( boat of the class) technical variance documentation; non-recurring design effort for scope changes between the SSBN 826 (USS Columbia) and SSBN 827; design for affordability; lead ship component development lead yard support; follow ship lead yard support; and implementation of enhanced cyber security measures.

This contract modification also includes submarine industrial base development and expansion efforts as part of the integrated enterprise plan and multi program material procurement supporting Columbia SSBNs and the nuclear shipbuilding enterprise (Virginia class fast attack submarines (SSNs) and Ford class aircraft carriers).

The submarine industrial base development and expansion efforts improve sub-tier vendor stability and gains economic efficiencies based on production economies for major components. The nuclear shipbuilding industrial base continues to ramp up production capability to support the increased demand associated with the Navy’s Force Structure Assessment. Improved capacity at the sub-tier vendors reduces risk across nuclear shipbuilding programs.

The modification also provides additional United Kingdom (U.K.) Strategic Weapon Support System kit manufacturing; expansion of the domestic missile tube industrial base; and submarine industrial base supplier development efforts.

U.S. Navy Columbia-class SSBN

Columbia-class submarine, formerly known as the Ohio Replacement Submarine and SSBN-X Future Follow-on Submarine, is a future U.S. Navy nuclear submarine class designed to replace the Trident missile-armed Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines.

Columbia-class SSBN
Columbia-class nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN)

General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) is designing the Ohio replacement submarines with assistance from HII Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS). The Navy plans to construct a total of 12 Columbia-class submarines.

The submarines will be 560 feet (170.7 m) long and 43 feet (13.1 m) in diameter. That is the same length as the Ohio-class submarine design, and one foot larger in diameter. Each submarine will have 16 missile tubes and each tube will be capable of carrying one Trident II D5LE submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). Ohio-class subs had 24 missile launch tubes.

The vessel has X-shaped stern control surfaces (hydroplanes), sail-mounted dive planes and integrated electric propulsion. The vessel’s nuclear fuel core is sufficient to power the ship for its entire expected service life, unlike the Ohio-class submarines, which require a mid-life nuclear refueling. The boats may also be equipped with a Submarine Warfare Federated Tactical System (SWFTS), a cluster of systems that integrate sonar, optical imaging, weapons control etc.

The Columbia class was officially designated on December 14, 2016, by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, and the lead boat will be USS Columbia (SSBN-826).

The lead boat, Columbia is scheduled to begin construction in Fiscal Year 2021 with the first delivery to the Navy in 2028. The submarine will enter service in 2031 (some 50 years after its immediate predecessor, the Ohio class, entered service). The submarine class will serve through 2085.

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