The U.S. Navy and General Dynamics [GD] Electric Boat may soon wrap up negotiations on the detail design contract for the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, an industry official said March 1.
“We expect to continue [the negotiations] for the next month or so and get to the point where we reach an agreement,” said William Lennon, Electric Boat’s Columbia program vice president.
The multi-billion-dollar, multi-year contract will cover completing the design of the Ohio-class submarine’s replacement. The program received Pentagon approval in early January to shift from its preliminary design phase to detail design.
Electric Boat is Columbia’s prime contractor and Huntington Ingalls Industries [HII] Newport News Shipbuilding has a secondary role.
President Donald Trump said in January that he wants to slash the cost of new submarines, and Lennon told Defense Daily that the $100 billion Columbia program is already heeding that message. For example, to create money-saving efficiencies, it is looking for opportunities to partner with the Virginia-class attack submarine program to make multi-year orders for common materials.
Lennon said Electric Boat, which builds the Virginia with Newport News, is also working with the Navy to study how to keep attack-submarine production at two vessels per year while the Columbia program is building one submarine annually. The study, or integrated enterprise plan, is looking at what the facility, resource and vendor base needs would be.
Electric Boat is also exploring whether it could start building more Columbia parts early to keep the program on track. Suppliers are already fabricating 42 missile tubes for the program, which expects to place 14 more tubes under contract soon.
The program aims to receive advance procurement funding in fiscal 2019 so it can start building the lead submarine in 2021.