$18 Billion Newbuild Order Awarded to General Dynamics

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USS Virginia (SSN 774), US Navy photo via GD Electric Boat

General Dynamics (GD) has their work cut out for them after winning a $17.6 billion newbuild order from the U.S. Navy yesterday.

As a result of the order, General Dynamics’ Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding yards will build 10 Block IV Virginia-class submarines at a total contract value of $17.6 billion. Two boats per year are forecasted to be built according to GD.

Steel cutting for the first of the Block IV boats is planned for 1 May 2014 and the last vessel is scheduled to be delivered in 2023.

What’s awesome about the Virginia class?

First off, the control room (essentially the bridge of the vessel) is all-digital using commercial-off-the-shelf equipment, including the periscope – which is located entirely outside of the pressure hull utilizing electro-magnetic and electro-optical sensors.

According to gCaptain sources, it’s also very easy to maneuver while using an automated system to maintain heading and depth. It will even head directly to periscope depth with a push of a button with human interface only as a backup.

virginia class submarineThe bow of the new Block IV Virginia-class subs feature a new design as well. Think two six-shooters side by side featuring Tomahawk missiles.

Instead of 12 individual hatches housing the missiles, with all the associated actuators and valves and maintenance required for those hatches and silos, the 12 Tomahawks will be installed in two separate silos, each holding six missiles. It’s very similar to the way Tomahawks are launched from the SSGNs – the ballistic missile subs which were converted into cruise missile submarines.

For General Dynamics, this order is big news as it represents the largest single submarine order in history amid a current state of fiscal austerity and cutbacks within naval shipbuilding.

About the Virginia Class – via General Dynamics

Virginia-class submarines are designed from the keel up for the full range of 21st century mission requirements, including anti-submarine and surface ship warfare and special operations support. These submarines excel in littoral and open-ocean environments and collect intelligence critical to irregular warfare efforts with advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. Unobtrusive, non-provocative and connected with land, air, sea and space-based assets, these versatile and powerful vessels are a core component of the Navy fleet and support national security interests.

Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding already have delivered 10 Virginia-class submarines to the Navy: USS Virginia (SSN-774), USS Texas (SSN-775), USS Hawaii (SSN-776), USS North Carolina (SSN-777), USS New Hampshire (SSN-778), USS New Mexico (SSN-779), USS Missouri (SSN-780), USS California (SSN-781), USS Mississippi (SSN-782) and USS Minnesota (SSN-783). Eight additional submarines are under construction.

Virginia-class submarines displace 7,800 tons, with a hull length of 377 feet and a diameter of 34 feet. They are capable of speeds in excess of 25 knots and can dive to a depth greater than 800 feet, while carrying Mark 48 advanced capability torpedoes, Tomahawk land-attack missiles and unmanned underwater vehicles.