WASHINGTON, DC – After years of work in Congress promoting the importance of our submarine fleet, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee, today hailed the Navy’s decision to award a $22.2 billion multi-year contract to General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. to build nine new Virginia-class submarines, with an option for a tenth submarine that would potentially raise the overall contract value above $24 billion.
Reed says the Block V contract, which incorporates the Virginia Payload Module (VPM), will help strengthen our nation’s defense capabilities, is cost effective for taxpayers, and ensures a stable workload at the company’s Electric Boat (EB) shipyard in Quonset Point for many years to come. The Block V agreement means construction on Block V ships will commence this year, with deliveries scheduled from 2025 through 2029.
“This contract is a major win for Rhode Island that will bring a host of economic benefits to the state. It means submarine production at Quonset stays on course and continues full speed ahead for the next decade and will lead to further jobs and investment in the state,” said Senator Reed. “I have worked closely with the Navy on submarine building for many years. These next generation submarines provide our forces with a distinct national security advantage. They are an unmatched tool for deterrence. The awarding of this contract is a testament to the skill and dedication of the men and women at Electric Boat who do an outstanding job of building these submarines. I will continue working hard to ensure the Navy maintains a steady, two-per-year production rate.”
Virginia-class submarines are known for their speed, stealth, maneuverability, and advanced technologies, which enhance their capabilities to meet the Navy's multi-mission requirements, including: anti-submarine warfare; surface-ship warfare; special operations support; and intelligence gathering and reconnaissance capabilities.
The Block V contract will expand the size of the fleet, while also expanding the size of the submarines themselves and adding enhanced capabilities.
The eighteen Virginia-class submarines that have already been built weigh 7,800 tons, with a hull length of 377 feet and a diameter of 34 feet and are capable of travelling at submerged speeds of 25 knots and diving over 800 feet below the surface. The ships can remain submerged for weeks or months, with reactors capable of producing the crew’s water and oxygen. The new Block V submarines with the VPM will weigh about 10,200 tons and have a length of 460 feet.
All the Block IV submarines are currently under various stages of construction.
Senator Reed has led efforts to include provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to support a two-per-year production rate for new submarines. Reed, who also serves on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, worked to include $7.4 billion for the Virginia-class submarine program and $3 billion to fully support the Columbia-class (Ohio-class Replacement) program in the 2019 NDAA.
On October 30, Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord sent a letter to Senator Reed and other members of Congress stating that the Navy estimated a savings of 6.8 percent for the nine-ship, Block V multi-year procurement contract to acquire new Virginia-class submarines with funds appropriated in fiscal years 2019 through 2023.
Last year, Electric Boat broke ground on a 1.3-million-square-foot, $800-million multi-year expansion of its manufacturing facilities at Quonset. Senator Reed has worked for years to help fund improvements in and around the Quonset Business Park to help attract and retain business in the area.
Electric Boat, which is a division of General Dynamics Corporation, manufactures Virginia-class submarines in partnership with Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. based in Newport News, Virginia. Electric Boat currently employs about 4,000 workers in Rhode Island.