The US Naval Sea Systems Command has awarded General Dynamics Electric Boat a $869 million contract modification that sets out a path for the construction of the first two Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs).
The latest contract modification is for continued design completion, engineering work, affordability studies and design support efforts for the SSBNs. It also includes a fully priced option for the construction of SSBN 826 and SSBN 827, the first two of the US Navy’s twelve next-generation SSBNs.
For SSBN 827, the modification covers advance procurement, advance construction and subsequent fiscal 2024 construction of SSBN 827.
According to a Pentagon contract announcement, this option is required to support the October 2020 construction start of the future USS Columbia (SSBN 826). If the option is exercised, the cumulative value of this contract will increase to $9.5 billion.
The latest contract 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 and Ford class).
The contract modification also provides additional United Kingdom Strategic Weapon Support System kit manufacturing and effort to support expansion of the domestic missile tube industrial base. The UK Royal Navy is currently also in the process of acquiring a next generation of nuclear deterrent submarines. The Dreadnought and Columbia-class submarines will share some technologies, including the common missile compartment used for launching ballistic missiles.
The US Navy is buying twelve Columbia-class submarine to replace the existing Ohio-class nuclear ballistic submarine force. The first patrol of the lead ship, SSBN 826, is scheduled for fiscal year 2031.