Submarine contract is biggest-ever award for US Navy


WASHINGTON – A $22.2 billion block-buy contract for nine more SSN 774 Virginia-class submarines with an option for a tenth sub was announced Tuesday by the US Navy. Prime contractor General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) and major subcontractor Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding are the primary beneficiaries of the new deal.

“This is a super big day for the Navy,” James “Hondo” Geurts, the Navy’s top acquisition official, told reporters at the Pentagon. “This will be the largest shipbuilding contract the Navy has ever awarded.”

Should Congress and the Navy decide to exercise the option for the tenth sub, the value of the contract will exceed $24 billion, Geurts added.

Twenty-eight Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarines are either in service or under construction. The new contract brings the overall total of Virginia-class subs to at least 37.

None of the new submarines have yet been assigned names, but all bear hull numbers.

All the submarines in the new Block V contract, beginning with hull number SSN 802, will incorporate improvements including acoustic superiority design changes. SSN 803 and all subsequent hulls will feature the Virginia Payload Module, an extended hull section fitted amidships and aft of the current design’s control room that will carry four VPM payload tubes able to carry a total of 28 Tomahawk cruise missiles or other weapons or systems. Current Virginia-class subs are only able to carry 12 Tomahawks.

“Along with the acoustic superiority design changes this will ensure we will remain the dominant undersea power for the future,” Geurts declared.

The fixed-price incentive fee, multi-year procurement contract, which has been under intense negotiation for many months, balances risk between the shipbuilders and the Navy, Geurts said, noting that if the shipbuilders deliver all the submarines on schedule taxpayers will realize a savings of 16.5 percent, or $4.5 billion.

The contract building time for SSN 802 is 70 months, said Rear Adm. David Goggins, the Navy’s program executive officer for submarines. Hulls 803 and 804 – the first fitted with the VPM – are to be built in 74 months, he added, with 72 months for SSNs 805 through 810 and 811 if its funded.

Those times compare with 60 months for the previous submarine, the Block IV Utah (SSN 801). The longer building times reflect increased complexity of the subs.

The Block V contract continues the unique teaming arrangement between GDEB and HII, with each shipbuilding fabricating specific sections and portions of each submarine and shipping those sections to the assembly yard. Although GDEB and Newport News alternate in assembling each Virginia-class submarine, the new arrangement provides for six hulls to be completed at Newport News, Va., and up to four at GDEB in Groton, Conn. The difference, Goggins, noted, is because GDEB will be delivering all Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines from its shipyard in Groton.

The Block V submarines are funded in fiscal years 2019 through 2023. The first submarine is to be delivered in 2025.

Contact Chris Cavas at

Posted 01 Dec 2019

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