WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy on Friday sealed the deal on a 10th ship in its latest iteration of the Virginia-class attack submarine, issuing a $2.4 billion adjustment on a contract initially awarded in December 2019.
The original contract was for nine boats with an option for a 10th, which brings the total cost of the contract with prime contractor General Dynamics Electric Boat to $24.1 billion. The net increase for the contract is $1.89 billion, according to a General Dynamics release. Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News shipyard is the partner yard in the program.
The president of General Dynamics Electric Boat, Kevin Graney, said in a statement that the shipyard is pleased to have the work and that his team is ready to take on the challenge of simultaneously building the Virginia class and the new — and much larger — Columbia-class next-generation ballistic missile submarine.
“The 17,000 shipbuilders of Electric Boat are pleased to receive the award for the tenth Block V ship and are ready to meet the generational challenge of building the Virginia and Columbia classes concurrently,” Graney said in a release. “We are grateful for the continued support of our federal delegation, who strongly advocated for this important funding.
“Today’s announcement maintains the two-ship per year production cadence, provides continuity and development to our skilled workforce and promotes stability in our national supply base.”
The 10th Block V Virginia-class submarine will include the Virginia Payload Module, an 84-foot section of the boat that will serve as an undersea vertical launcher for missiles.
The modern Virginia-class subs coming off the lines can hold 12 Tomahawk missiles in a launcher on the bow. With the payload module section added amidships, each of the Virginia Payload Modules on the Block Vs will have the capacity for 40 cruise missiles. In total, eight of the 10 boats in Block V will have the module.
With advancements in hypersonic missile technology, Virginia’s larger launcher will be well suited to host them once they are deployable. The Virginia subs will also host the new version of the anti-ship Maritime Strike Tomahawk, part of the Block V upgrade that will begin being delivered to the service next week.
David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.