Navy awards $22 billion submarine contract to Electric Boat
By ZACHARY F. VASILE | The Journal Inquirer | Published: December 3, 2019
MANCHESTER, Conn. (Tribune News Service) — Christmas came early to Electric Boat on Monday as the U.S. Navy awarded the Groton-based shipbuilder a massive, $22.2 billion contract for nine new Virginia-class submarines.
According to a federal listing, the long-awaited agreement covers the fifth batch of Virginias manufactured by Electric Boat, a subsidiary of General Dynamics Corp., and its major subcontractor, Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division. The next-generation, nuclear-powered fast attack sub is gradually replacing the aging Los Angeles class, the longtime cornerstone of the Navy’s submersible attack fleet.
Deliveries are scheduled to take place from 2025 through 2030, military officials said.
In a statement, Electric Boat President Kevin M. Graney hailed the deal as an important step forward for the company, which is also ramping up production on projects such as the upcoming Columbia class.
“This contract allows for our shipbuilding team, our suppliers, and our employees to plan ahead so that we can continue to deliver submarines of unmatched quality, stealth, and lethality,” Graney said. “Increasing the cadence of our production from one per year to two, coupled with the start of full production of the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, represents a generational increase in submarine production for our nation. We are prepared to meet that challenge.”
Gov. Ned Lamont hailed the contract.
“Connecticut workers have earned a reputation of being the best trained in the nation, and there is no doubt that the U.S. Navy recognizes the strength of the workers at Electric Boat and its local suppliers throughout our state,” Lamont said.
Sen. Christopher Murphy, D-Conn,, called the contract “a testament to our skilled workforce.”
“This new contract will fuel thousands of jobs in our state and provide long-term stability to the thousands of small Connecticut companies that support our defense manufacturing sector,” he said.
As is, the contract announced Monday provides for nine Virginia-class subs, eight of which will carry an upgraded missile deployment system known as the Virginia Payload Module. But the Navy eventually could chose to exercise an option for one additional submarine equipped with the specialized unit, raising the contract’s total value by about $2 billion to roughly $24 billion.
Navy officials said the bulk of the work will take place in Groton, Newport News, Va., and Quonset Point, R.I., with a smaller share farmed out to subcontractors and suppliers in Sunnyvale, Calif., Norfolk, Va., Bethlehem, Pa., and Annapolis, Md.
The Naval Sea Systems Command, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is the contracting agency.
Since its introduction in 2004, the Virginia class has been positioned as the Navy’s next great workhorse, capable of carrying out both open-ocean and near-shore missions, including anti-submarine warfare and covert intelligence gathering. The 7,900-metric ton, 377-foot-long craft can reach speeds of 25 knots and comes equipped with Tomahawk long-range cruise missiles for use against land targets and Mark 48 torpedoes, which are designed to sink other deep-diving submarines.
The Virginia Payload Module, which replaces single-purpose cruise missile launch tubes with multipurpose launch tubes and increases the sub’s weapons stockpile, became a standard feature this year.
Over the lifespan of the project, Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding have delivered 18 Virginia-class submarines to the Navy.