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06:03 AM, May 24, 2019
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Steel cut for Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine

A plasma-burning machine cut the first steel plate that will be used to build Columbia (SSBN 826), the United States Navy’s lead ballistic missile submarine on Thursday.

The event marked the first class of submarines that will be built using fully digital blueprints.

Jason Ward, Newport News’ vice president for Columbia-class construction said, “It has been a half century since Newport News Shipbuilding has constructed a ballistic submarine. Today, we formally transition from design to material procurement and now to construction execution,” a Huntington Ingalls release said.

Newport News is a major contractor and shipbuilding partner in the Columbia-class program and is performing advance construction activities under a contract the shipyard received from General Dynamics Electric Boat. The Columbia-class boats will replace the fleet of Ohio-class nuclear ballistic submarines. Newport News is starting its work three weeks ahead of schedule to support its advance construction efforts.

“The first cut of steel is a major construction milestone that signifies our shipyard and submarine industrial base are ready to move forward with production,” Ward said. “We have worked to engage the submarine industrial base and leveraged lessons learned from the successful Virginia-class program to building the Columbia-class submarines in the most efficient and affordable manner to provide the best value to the Navy.”

Construction of the 12-boat Columbia class will take place in Virginia, Rhode Island and Connecticut, with Electric Boat assembling and delivering all of the submarines. The lead boat is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in 2027.

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