Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII)’ Newport News Shipbuilding division has been awarded a contract modification from General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) in support of construction on the first two Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) for the U.S. Navy.
The contract modification, valued at approximately $2.2 billion, provides continued design support efforts, as well as the construction and delivery of six module sections for each of the first two Columbia-class submarines, USS Columbia (SSBN-826) and USS Wisconsin (SSBN-827).
As part of the contract, Newport News will deliver the completed modules to Electric Boat for final assembly. The contracted module delivery dates are scheduled to start in November 2022 with the last module delivery taking place by January 2028.
“We are pleased to be a crucial design and manufacturing contributor to the Columbia-class program,” said Charles Southall, Newport News’ vice president of Columbia-class Submarine Construction. “This contract continues NNS’ longstanding and strong commitment to the Navy’s undersea enterprise through the design and construction of major modules and assemblies necessary to achieve program objectives.”
GDEB was recently awarded a $9.474 billion contract modification by the U.S. Navy for the construction and test of the lead and second Columbia-class submarines as well as associated design and engineering support. Efforts within the ship include the Common Missile Compartment (CMC) which is a joint U.S./United Kingdom effort.
Newport News is a major contractor and shipbuilding partner in the Columbia-class program, and in May 2019 began advance construction activities on the lead ballistic missile submarine under contract to Electric Boat.
The Columbia-class submarines, formerly known as the SSBN-X Future Follow-on Submarine, will replace the U.S. Navy’s ageing fleet of Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines.
The Columbia class submarines will be 560 feet (170.7 m) long and 43 feet (13.1 m) in diameter with a displacement of nearly 21,000 tons which makes them the largest ever built by the United States. This is the same length as the Ohio-class submarine design, and one foot larger in diameter.
The Columbia-class boats will have 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.
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 has 24 missile launch tubes.
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).
Construction of the 12-boat Columbia class will take place in Virginia, Rhode Island and Connecticut, with Electric Boat assembling and delivering all of the submarines. The lead boat is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in 2027.