Parts for up to nine new Virginia-class submarines are set to be built in Quonset over the next few years after the Navy awarded a $22.2 billion shipbuilding contract, the largest such in the branch’s history, to General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc.
At least four of the subs will be built at the company’s Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, Connecticut, and parts of the vessels will be fabricated at Electric Boat’s Quonset facility.
“This contract is a major win for Rhode Island that will bring a host of economic benefits to the state,” said Sen. Jack Reed’s (D-RI) in a press release. “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.”
This Block V contract, according to Reed, will strengthen the nation’s defense while also being cost efficient to American taxpayers and ensuring work at the Electric Boat site well into the next decade.
“I have worked closely with the Navy on submarine building for many years,” Reed said. “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.”
The building of parts is set to begin this month and deliveries of the completed vessels is slated for between 2025 and 2029. An option for an additional Virginia-class submarine if needed is on the table, which would increase the deal to $24 billion.
Currently the Navy has 18 Virginia-class submarines in its fleet, with Block IV models still in construction. The vessels are known for their speed, stealth and maneuverability. Each weigh roughly 7,800 tons with a hull length of 377 feet and are capable of remaining submerged for weeks and even months at a time up to 800 feet below the surface while traveling up to 25 knots.
The Block V models, which will incorporate the new Virginia Payload Module, will be 460 feet long and weigh roughly 10,200 tons.
As the Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee, Reed has led efforts in the Senate to support a two-per-year production rate for new submarines as part of the National Defense Authorization Act as part of modernizing the nation’s fleet in preparation for any conflict that may arise.
Electric Boat, headquartered in Groton, broke ground last year on a 1.3 million square foot, $800 million expansion to its fabrication capabilities in the Quonset Business Park. It employs 4,000 workers.
Other members of the state’s congressional delegation were quick to applaud the deal.
“The Block V multi-year contract awarded to General Dynamics Electric Boat is the largest Navy contract in history and is good news for Rhode Island,” Rep. James Langevin (D-RI02) said in a press release. “The new contract backs our state’s workforce and, most importantly, promotes long-term stability for our submarine fleet, which will further enhance national security by ensuring we have the most capable submarines and naval technology available in the years to come.”