Home » Budget Industry » Navy Awards $101M To Electric Boat To Build SSBN Missile Tubes; UK Enters Manufacturing Phase On Successor-Class


Navy Awards $101M To Electric Boat To Build SSBN Missile Tubes; UK Enters Manufacturing Phase On Successor-Class

Workers stand pose for a photo in the four-tube "quad-pack" built for the U.S. Ohio Replacement-class and U.K. Successor-class. General Dynamics Electric Boat Photo via US Navy

Workers stand pose for a photo in the four-tube “quad-pack” built for the U.S. Ohio Replacement-class and U.K. Successor-class. General Dynamics Electric Boat Photo via US Navy

The U.S. Navy and U.K. Royal Navy’s replacement ballistic missile submarine programs both took steps forward this week, with the Navy awarding $101.3 million to General Dynamics Electric Boat to produce the first 22 missile tubes under the Common Missile Compartment program, and the Brits cutting steel on the first boat in the Successor-class program.

The U.S. Navy’s contract modification to Electric boat comes on top of an initial five-year, $1.85 billion contract the Navy awarded Electric Boat in December 2012 for research and development work on the Columbia class, formerly called the Ohio Replacement Program. The contract has the potential to reach $2.5 billion if all options are exercised.

The U.S. Navy awarded $89.8 million on Dec. 21, 2015, for the purchase of long lead time materials for these missile tubes. At the time, the Defense Department contract announcement noted that long lead material purchase was 34 percent U.S. Navy funding and 66 percent U.K. under the Foreign Military Sales program.

An artist's conception of the U.K.'s Successor-class future planned ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) released Tuesday. UK Ministry of Defense Photo

An artist’s conception of the U.K.’s Successor-class future planned ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) released Tuesday. UK Ministry of Defense Photo

The missile tubes are expected to deliver by December 2024, according to the contract announcement. The U.S. Navy intends to begin construction of its first SSBN in 2021, deliver it in 2029 and deploy it in 2031.

The Royal Navy moved into “Delivery Phase I” this week, cutting steel for the auxiliary machine space that will contain switchboards and control panels for the reactor. It announced £1.3 billion ($1.45 billion) in new investment in the Successor-class program on Oct. 1, which funds early manufacturing work as well as “furthering the design of the submarine, purchasing materials and long lead items, and investing in facilities at the BAE Systems yard in Barrow-in-Furness where the submarines will be built,” according to a Royal Navy statement. The first British SSBN should deliver in 2028.

  • bobbymike34

    Hey SCO or RCO should install duel rows on a retired amphibious assault ship deck and load with long range prompt strike missiles like ATKs IRGSM. These missiles should have a longer range than China’s IRBMs and become a very strong ‘signalling’ weapon system when it sails into the area.

    • Donald Carey

      Make-shift modifications to worn out boats will impress nobody.

      • bobbymike34

        Who says it will be makeshift on worn out boats? I would guarantee if the US sent it to the SCS loaded with 2000 miles range range strike missiles with very accurate hypersonic boost glide weapons China would be very concerned.

        • Donald Carey

          You said a retired ship, not a new, well maintained one. That the ship was not designed for the role guarantees the set-up will be makeship.

          • bobbymike34

            How about the Iowa’s as an example long retired brought back with lots of high tech toys including cruise missiles.

            I think it could be accomplished.

          • Donald Carey

            Yes, the Iowa’s did well, but they were designed to be front line combatants – amphibious assault ships were not – plus, the amphibious ships are slow.

          • bobbymike34

            I don’t know how ‘front line’ you have to be to lob 2000 miles range missiles at ‘new’ airfields in the South China Sea.

          • Donald Carey

            The Chinese would track the ships constantly whenever they are within their (the repourposed ships), strike range. Unless the U.S. used them as first strike or they could get off a strike before the Chinese first strike takes them out, they would be sinking wrecks in short order. Remember, Chinese land based air-launched assets will outrange any purely ship-based (not using aircraft), weapons system.

  • Jimmy

    These SSBNs are being build with 8 fewer missile tubes than the Ohios they’re replacing, even though they’ll be operated in a world where it’s virtually guaranteed they’ll be called upon to face not only Russia, but a China with a full strength nuclear arsenal equal to the US/Russia, a North Korea with an arsenal in the hundreds, and very likely a nuclear Iran. The deterrence requirements are going up, not down, no matter how much Obama wants to flaunt New START (which BTW has resulted in zero Russian reductions that weren’t going to happen anyway due to age).

    And the Ohios were built with growth in mind, they had tubes sized for the future envisioned D5s even though the first ships had to carry the smaller C4s in liners. But that was when the USN actually cared about leaving room for growth. Now there are ship classes (Zumwalt, LCS, Burke Flight III) that are overweight from the very start and have no growth margins.

    • @USS_Fallujah

      8 few tubes per boat has zero affect on deterrence requirements. The real danger is the reduced number of boats being built, on the assumption that improvements in design will allow shorter maintenance periods & faster crew turnaround between deployments. If those assumptions fail having the requisite number of boats at sea to provide deterrence will be highly problematic.