The U.S. Navy awarded General Dynamics Electric Boat $475 million to continue to advance the construction of Columbia-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.
The submarines of this class be the largest ever built by the United States.
The modification provides funding for shipyard execution work, planning, engineering, design efforts, test and evaluation support, and material procurement. This contract modification also provides funding for submarine industrial base development and expansion in support of the Columbia-class specifically, and the broader nuclear shipbuilding enterprise, as part of an integrated enterprise shipbuilding plan.
General Dynamics won $19 billion in November 2020 to build and test the lead and second ships of the Columbia-class.
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.