The US Navy has awarded General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) a $9.474 billion contract for the construction and testing of the lead and second Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines.
The contract also includes design and engineering support and has a completion date of April 2030.
GDEB is expected to deliver the first of the next generation of US Navy submarines, which will be replacing the current Ohio-class, by 2027.
Electric Boat will perform about 78% of the construction of the Columbia-class, and recently shifted the program to full-scale construction at the company’s manufacturing complex in Quonset Point, Rhode Island.
Construction of four of the six ‘supermodules’ will take place at Electric Boat’s Quonset Point facility. The supermodules will then be transported by barge to the company’s final test and assembly yard in Groton, Connecticut, where the components will be assembled into a complete submarine in a 200,000 square-foot facility now under construction specifically for the Columbia class.
The shipbuilder recently reported that the design maturity for Columbia was almost 90% complete, nearly twice the level of design completion of the lead Virginia-class submarine when it started construction.
“Electric Boat has been making preparations for construction of the Columbia-class for nearly a decade, including advancing the design of this critical Navy asset, hiring and training thousands of skilled tradespeople, modernizing our facilities and helping to bolster the supply base. As a result, Columbia’s design is more advanced than that of any previous submarine program,” said Kevin Graney, president of General Dynamics Electric Boat.
Despite being currently on track with the Columbia-class, navy leaders remain concerned about delays in the Virginia-class attack submarine program which could affect the Columbia-class schedule. The shipbuilder noted that a two-boat contract allowed for schedule certainty that could allow them interweave the final assembly of Columbia boats and construction of Virginia boats.
At 560 feet (170 meters) long with a displacement of nearly 21,000 tons, the submarines of the Columbia class will be the largest ever built by the United States. They will have a life-of-ship fuel core that will power the submarine for its entire service life, eliminating the need for a mid-service refueling.