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US submarine builders gear up for next-block boats

Fast-attack submarine New Jersey is scheduled to be delivered in 2022. (Michael Fabey)

The US Navy (USN) christened fast-attack submarine New Jersey (SSN 796) on 13 November at Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding yard in Virginia. HII is building the ships with General Dynamics' Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut.

The vessel is the fifth of the 10 submarine Block IV configuration buy and is scheduled for delivery in 2022, after a delay in earlier milestones due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Construction began in March 2016 and is 82% complete.

Block IV navigated scheduling difficulties from the very beginning of the programme, noted HII officials.

“When we kicked off Block IV, the contract took quite a while to negotiate and as a result, there was some late material procurement, [and] that kind of helped us get off to a rocky start relative to that programme, as well as the ramp up in production,” HII CEO Michael Petters told investment analysts during a 4 November earnings call.

“We had a lot of things moving, a lot of parts moving, on the beginning of Block IV,” Petters added.

During that call, Chris Kastner, HII chief operating officer, noted that with “Block IV getting back to a cadence where we're floating off one boat a year and delivering one boat a year, and then transitioning that workforce right into Block V makes great sense. We have high hopes for performance on Block V because of the lessons we're learning through Block V when you get to a two-per-year cadence. The transition for us is moving seamlessly from Block IV into Block V.”

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