The U.S. Navy has awarded General Dynamics Electric Boat $9.5 billion for construction and test of the lead and second ships of the Columbia class SSBN 826 and SSBN 827, as well as associated design and engineering support.
This modification to the integrated product and process development (IPPD) contract supports the fiscal 2021 construction start of the lead ship (SSBN 826) and advance procurement, advance construction, coordinated material buys and full construction of the follow hull (SSBN 827) in fiscal 2024.
Work is expected to be completed by April 2030.
The Columbia-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine will be the largest submarine ever built by the United States.
Electric Boat is the prime contractor on the design and build of 12 submarines that will replace the aging Ohio-class of ballistic-missile submarines. Early construction began in 2017 at the company's facility in Quonset Point, Rhode Island. Final assembly and test of the Columbia class will take place starting in 2024 at Electric Boat's shipyard in Groton.
Its design includes 16 SLBM tubes, as opposed to 24 SLBM (Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile) tubes (of which 20 are now used for SLBMs) on Ohio-class SSBNs. Although the Columbia-class design has fewer SLBM tubes, it is larger than the Ohio-class design in terms of submerged displacement.
The submarine will be powered by an electric-drive propulsion system that includes an electric motor driving the propeller of the boat. It will use a nuclear reactor to produce the necessary electrical energy to supply the electric propulsion motor. The submarine will be able to sail at a speed of 20 knots (38 km/h) and operate at a depth of 250m.
The Navy estimates the Columbia program to run about $7.5 billion per hull over the class. By 2026, the service is expected to buy one Columbia per year.