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US Navy, General Dynamics Electric Boat ink USD5.1 billion SSBN deal

22 September 2017
Twelve next-generation SSBNs (shown in an artist's rendering) are to enter service in the 2030s and operate into the 2080s. Source: General Dynamics Electric Boat

On 21 September General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) was awarded a USD5.1 billion contract by the Pentagon to complete designs for the lead Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN).

Ultimately 12 Columbia-class boats are planned to replace 14 ageing Ohio-class SSBNs. The Ohio class is to begin decommissioning in 2029, with the last boat scheduled for retirement in 2039.

The Pentagon described its deal with GDEB as a “cost-plus-incentive-fee with special incentives contract” for the Columbia class’s integrated product and process development (IPPD) design.

“The contract also includes component and technology development, missile tube module and reactor compartment bulkhead prototyping and manufacturing efforts, and United Kingdom Strategic Weapon Support System kit manufacturing for the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines,” the Pentagon said.

It added that the deal accounts for foreign military sales to the UK, and that USD175.1 million in UK funding was obligated.

GDEB said the contract would fund “component and technology development as well as continued development of the Common Missile Compartment, which will be integrated into both the [US] Navy’s new SSBN and the Royal Navy’s Dreadnought-class strategic missile submarine”.

The is expected to be completed by December 2031, with GDEB stating that construction of the lead Columbia-class boat is scheduled to begin in late 2020.

In early 2016 it was announced that GDEB would serve as prime contractor for the Columbia class under a collaboration agreement with Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII). GDEB and HII – the only yards in the United States capable of building nuclear-powered ships – will work under the US Navy's (USN) Submarine Unified Build Strategy to deliver the new SSBNs concurrently with the ongoing Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarine programme, for which the two yards also share work.

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