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December 3, 2019 | International, Naval

US Navy awards largest-ever shipbuilding contract to Electric Boat for new attack submarines

By: David B. Larter

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Navy on Monday awarded its largest-ever shipbuilding contract to General Dynamics Electric Boat for construction of nine Virginia-class attack submarines, eight of which will have 84-foot section that boosts the boat's strike missile capacity.

The contract for the Block V Virginias, worth $22.2 billion, could grow by another $2 billion if the Navy exercises an option for a 10th boat. The contract is for two fewer boats than the 11 proposed by the fleet in this year's budget submission.

“A lot of hard work across the whole team to structure the contract in such a was as to balance risk between the government and the shipbuilder,” said James Geurts, the Navy's top acquisition official, in a roundtable with members of the media to announce the contract signing. “If the shipbuilder delivers on target, the multi-year savings will be 16.5 percent, or $4.4 billion in savings. So, it's a pretty important day for us.”

Guerts, the assistant Secretary of the Navy for research, acquisition and development, said that when you add government furnished equipment into the contract, the total swells to about $35 billion.

The first boat in Block V, SSN 802, is currently under construction but does not have the Virginia Payload Module. The next boat, 803, will have VPM. All of the boats will have an upgraded acoustics suite.

In the briefing, Navy officials said that six of the boats would be constructed at Electric Boat's partner yard, Huntington Ingalls Newport News, and three would be built at Electric Boat. The 10th boat would go to Electric Boat if the Navy exercised the option.

The move to put most of the work in Newport News was done to balance the increased workload at Electric Boat with the start of the Columbia class, the next generation of ballistic missile submarines slated to begin construction this year.

In a statement, Electric Boat President Kevin Graney said the contract provides stability for his shipyard.

“This contract allows for our shipbuilding team, out suppliers and our employees to plan ahead so that we can continue to deliver submarines of unmatched quality, stealth and lethality,” Graney said.

Dave Bolcar, Newport News' vice president of submarine construction, likewise hailed the contract as a means of stability in the submarine industrial base.

"Today's contract maintains the Virginia-class build rate that provides continued stability to our workforce and to the 5,000 suppliers that will support submarines for the next decade,” he said. "This contract also continues the two per year construction cadence essential to sustaining production efficiencies, while ensuring our national security and the Navy's continued undersea superiority.”

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