The US Navy is evaluating a welding defect in ballistic missile tubes designed and manufactured locally, which may reportedly delay construction of next-generation US and British submarines.
The welding issue identified on missile tubes that have been delivered to General Dynamics Electric Boat for new ballistic-missile submarines for the U.S. Navy and the Royal Navy, and on tubes for weapons being manufactured for new U.S. attack submarines, according to the Naval Sea Systems Command.
An Electric Boat subcontractor — BWX Technologies — identified problems with welded components for missile tubes destined for the new submarines, Rex Geveden, BWX chief executive was quoted as saying by USNI during a Tuesday conference call with Wall Street analysts.
The Navy is working with the Electric Boat to determine the next steps, which could include further inspections and fixing or replacing welds.
“It’s fundamentally an inspection technique issue,” Geveden said. “There’s a problem with inspection technique which means some welding indications were not caught in the inspection, so I don’t view it as a welding quality issue, I view it as an inspection technique issue. So because of that we’ll have to go back and reinspect and rework some of those welds.”
BWXT is one of three vendors sub-contracted to deliver tubes for the first Columbia-class submarines, the next block of Virginia-class submarines and for the British Dreadnought-class submarines.
BWXT has a contract for 26 missile tubes for the ballistic-missile submarines and three weapons tubes for the attack submarines, which are in various stages of completion, according to the Navy. The company has been manufacturing missile tube assemblies for these submarines since late 2014.