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Electric Boat delivers newest Virginia-class submarine to the Navy

By STEPHEN SINGER | The Hartford Courant | Published: April 17, 2020

HARTFORD, Conn. (Tribune News Service) — Electric Boat on Friday delivered the nuclear-powered attack submarine Vermont to the U.S. Navy, the first of a 10-ship group of Virginia-class submarines being readied in a block.

At a cost of more than $3.2 billion, the Virginia-class submarine’s hull length is 377 feet and diameter is 34 feet. It’s capable of speeds faster than 25 knots and can dive to a depth greater than 800 feet.

The subs carry Mark 48 advanced capability torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The Vermont is the first submarine to be delivered as part of what’s called Block IV. In December, the Navy awarded a $22 billion contract to Electric Boat, a subsidiary of General Dynamics Corp., to build nine Virginia-class submarines and the option of a 10th as part of Block V.

Deliveries of Block V ships are scheduled from 2025 through 2029.

Electric Boat President Kevin Graney said EB has been able to “affordably deliver new submarines to the fleet.”

Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, said EB has built the submarines under budget with no significant cost overruns since the first block of submarines. In the early 2000s, EB and the Navy invested in improvements in design and shipyards, helping to drive down costs, he said.

The Virginia-class submarine’s cost is about $3.2 billion, Clark said. The next block of submarines is expected to cost about $3.6 billion per submarine because of an added module for missiles, he said.

With a workforce of more than 16,600 workers at its three primary sites in Groton, New London and Quonset Point, R.I., EB is busy not only with the Virginia-class submarine but also is ramping up work on the Columbia-class submarine, the next generation of ballistic submarines.

As part of his budget proposal to Congress, President Donald Trump cut one Virginia-class submarine from production.

EB is under pressure to meet Navy deadlines despite the coronavirus pandemic. Graney said Wednesday three more cases, including two at Quonset Point, have been reported, bringing the number to 27, including himself.

EB rearranged shifts beginning last Monday to impose more distance between workers. Half the workforce began work 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. while the other half started at 4 p.m. and ending at 2 a.m. The one-hour gap between the shifts is to ensure that workers do not come in contact during shift changes. The 10-hour shifts are worked four consecutive days.

ssinger@courant.com

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