The U.S. Navy awarded a $5.1 billion contract to General Dynamics Electric Boat for Integrated Product and Process Development (IPPD) of the Columbia-class Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBN) on Sept. 21, the service said in a statement.
The contract is for the design, completion, component and technology development and prototyping efforts for the submarines.
This work will also include United Kingdom unique efforts related to the common missile compartment which the Columbia-class shares with the Royal Navy’s proposed replacement for its own Vanguard-class SSBN.
The awarding of the contract follows a successful Milestone B (MS B) approval Jan. 4 2017.
Columbia-class submarine, formerly known as the Ohio Replacement Submarine and SSBN-X Future Follow-on Submarine, is a future United States Navy nuclear submarine class designed to replace the Trident missile-armed Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines.
General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) is designing the Ohio replacement submarines with assistance from Newport News Shipbuilding. The U.S. 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.
The vessel has X-shaped stern control surfaces (hydroplanes), sail-mounted dive planes and integrated electric propulsion.
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’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 2021 and enter service in 2031 (some 50 years after its immediate predecessor, the Ohio class, entered service). The submarine class will serve through 2085.
The Columbia-class Program is managed by Program Executive Office (PEO) Submarines. It focuses on the design, construction, delivery and conversion of submarines and advanced undersea and anti-submarine systems, including Special Operations Forces delivery systems, submarine rescue systems, torpedoes, towed acoustics sensors, and unique submarine sonar, control, imaging and electronic warfare systems.