US Navy to Procure 12 Columbia-class Nuclear Subs Costing $7.2B Apiece

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  • 06:59 AM, November 7, 2017
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US Navy to Procure 12 Columbia-class Nuclear Subs Costing $7.2B Apiece
Columbia-class submarine (SSBN-826) (Image:Modern Weapons)

The US Navy plans to procure 12 Columbia-class nuclear submarines costing an approximate $7.2 billion a piece to replace its fleet of Ohio-class ballistic missile vessels as part of the Defense Department’s plan to modernize US nuclear triad.

The Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program (SSBN-826) is coming down in cost and staying on schedule despite an early challenge, program officials said last week. The US Navy plans to buy the first submarine in 2021 and expects the vessel to enter service by 2031, executivegov reported Monday.

The program was giving a $8-billion affordability cap, and when the Milestone B decision was made in January to move into engineering and manufacturing development (EMD), the program was sitting at about $7.3 billion for the average procurement unit cost (APUC) across all 12 planned submarines, Program Executive Officer for Submarines Rear Adm. Michael Jabaley was quoted as saying by USNI at the Naval Submarine League’s annual conference.

“Through innovative legislative authority and contracting techniques, we’ve already reduced cost by $80 million per hull, to bring APUC down to $7.21 (billion),” Jabaley said.

“So that was a combination of missile tube continuous production … and advance construction, which is pulling key construction activities to the left. Really the focus of that was to reduce the risk of not delivering on time, but it had an added benefit of savings as well.”

The US Navy in September had awarded a $5 billion contract to General Dynamics Electric Boat for the Integrated Product and Process Development design completion for the Columbia-class nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs).

According to the contract, the submarine is intended to fire nuclear missiles at enemy positions after remaining hidden under-water.

The contract also includes component and technology development, missile tube module and reactor compartment bulkhead prototyping and manufacturing efforts, and United Kingdom Strategic Weapon Support System kit manufacturing for the Columbia class ballistic missile submarines.

The company, in June this year had also won a US Navy contract worth $203 million to produce missile tubes in support of the next generation Columbia-Class submarines as part of the US-UK common missile compartment program.

The common missile compartment was developed by both countries and will be used on the next-generation Columbia and Dreadnought strategic nuclear submarines, according to the Defense Department.

The tubes will house the Trident II D-5 nuclear missile by Lockheed Martin. 

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