This post has been updated to include additional information from the Navy.
The Navy will soon release the request for proposals (RFP) for the design of the Ohio Replacement Program ballistic missile submarine, after the Defense Department approved the RFP release.
After finalizing a capability development document, specifications and a process to limit requirements changes in late October, the Navy went to the Defense Acquisition Board on Dec. 21 for authorization to proceed with the RFP.
“On Dec 21, the Navy sought Defense Acquisition Executive authorization to proceed with release of the Integrated Product and Process Development Request for Proposal for the Ohio Replacement program,” DoD spokeswoman Maureen Schumann told USNI News on Tuesday.
“At the DAB, [Pentagon acquisition chief Frank] Kendall reviewed the status of technology development, program schedule, the execution of the current contract and the Ohio Replacement acquisition strategy, and approved the release of the Development RFP.”
Naval Sea Systems Command spokeswoman Colleen O’Rourke told USNI News Wednesday that the Navy received formal authorization on Jan. 4 to release the RFP, which will go out to prime contractor General Dynamics Electric Boat by the end of the week.
“The contract will produce the diagrams, drawings and information necessary to design, build, test and operate a submarine, enabling the shipbuilder(s) to start construction in 2021,” she said.
“The RFP release represents an important step in the way ahead for the program.
O’Rourke said the contract would be awarded by the end of the year, and George Drakeley, the executive director of the Program Executive Office for Submarines, said in October that a contract award was expected in the fall timeframe.
To support a first patrol in 2031, the Navy must begin building the lead ship in 2021, begin buying long lead time materials in 2019 and start the design process this year, Drakeley said.
Though Electric Boat will serve as the prime contractor, O’Rourke said that Newport News Shipbuilding – which teams with Electric Boat to each build certain sections of the Virginia-class attack submarines – will also play an important role in ORP.
“The Navy continues to work with Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding to develop a successful build strategy for Virginia and OR (Ohio Replacement) submarine programs while ensuring the most capable submarine force at the most affordable price,” she said.
“Detailed cost analysis and workforce studies are ongoing to ensure a stable foundation is in place when construction of OR begins in 2021. The OR program will provide the nation with its most survivable leg of the strategic deterrence triad at the lowest cost.”
ORP program manager Capt. David Goggins said in October that the lead ship would cost 17.2 billion, including both the cost of construction and the up-front design costs. Boats 2 through 12 should cost about $4.9 billion apiece.