The Navy will award contracts to General Dynamics Electric Boat for the first two Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines as soon as the fiscal 2021 budget is approved, according to reports.
Defense News reports that the Navy will award $10.4 billion to Electric Boat, including $869 million to complete design work and $9.5 billion for the first two submarines. Congress still must appropriate the money, and the official award would be made as soon as the fiscal 2021 budget is approved. Appropriations are due by the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1, but in recent years final passage of the budget often has been delayed by weeks or even months beyond that date.
Once the contracts are awarded, the Navy will then begin production of the first sub, and also start advance construction of the second with the intent of beginning full construction on that hull by 2024.
The first sub could be delivered by 2028 and begin patrols in 2031, according to the report. The Navy plans to buy 12 submarines — two fewer than its current fleet of 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines.
The Columbia-class program is the Navy’s top acquisition priority. The total program is expected to cost about $109 billion according to the Congressional Research Service.
“Today’s announcement means ‘Game on’ for this exciting and transformational project that will shape our region’s economy for the next two decades—and I know that our talented shipbuilders of Electric Boat are up to the challenge,” Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Chairman of the House Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, said in a statement. “This award is the culmination of nearly a decade’s worth of preparation for this milestone moment for our region and our nation. The replacement of our sea-based strategic deterrent comes only once every other generation, and this work is already fueling unprecedented growth in the workforce in Groton and transformation of the shipyard.”
MAIN PHOTO: WASHINGTON (March 6, 2019) An artist rendering of the future Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines. The 12 submarines of the Columbia class are a shipbuilding priority and will replace the Ohio-class submarines reaching maximum extended service life. The Columbia-class Program Executive Office is on track to begin construction with USS Columbia (SSBN 826) in fiscal year 2021, deliver in fiscal year 2028, and on patrol in 2031. (U.S. Navy illustration)