Electric Boat awarded $967 million contract modification for Virginia submarine design work

By Nick Wilson / October 12, 2023 at 1:21 PM

As fiscal year 2023 came to a close, General Dynamics Electric Boat received a contract modification worth $967 million for Virginia-class submarine design work, according to a Navy announcement.

A separate release from Electric Boat -- which collaboratively builds the fast-attack submarines through a teaming agreement with HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding -- says the award will fund “lead yard support and development studies and design efforts,” for the vessels.

With the bulk of work to take place at Electric Boat’s Groton, CT, facility, company spokesperson Daniel McFadden told Inside Defense the funds will be used for “upkeep and maintenance” of the Virginia design.

“For example, incorporating improvements and replacing [obsolescent] parts as the design evolves,” he said. “Also, development and design work for areas such as [subsea and seabed warfare], the Virginia Payload Module and undersea dominance.”

According to a Navy spokesperson, the funding will “maintain, update and support the Virginia-class design and related drawings and data for each Virginia-class submarine, including technology insertion, throughout its construction and Post Shakedown Availability (PSA) period.”

Funding will finance development studies related to Virginia design improvement endeavors, the spokesperson told Inside Defense, saying the award will also encompass engineering efforts related to design, testing, logistics and production.

“The contractor will continue development studies and design efforts related to components and systems to accomplish Research and Development tasks and prototypes and Engineering Development Models (EDMs) required to fully evaluate new technologies to be inserted in succeeding Virginia-class submarines,” the spokesperson continued.

The contract follows a $517 million award to Electric Boat earlier in September for the procurement of spare parts for Virginia maintenance availabilities.

Both production and maintenance of the submarines are pressing issues for the Navy, with the United States preparing to begin transferring vessels to Australia in the 2030s under the AUKUS security partnership while industry struggles to meet delivery targets and maintenance delays undercut operational readiness.

During a recent confirmation hearing, acting Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti said U.S. industry is producing only 1.2 Virginia boats per year and must improve to 2.2 vessels per year to deliver on AUKUS.

The Navy is working on stabilizing Virginia construction at a rate of 1.4 per year by the end of calendar year 2023 before ramping up to 1.5 per year by the end of 2024, Franchetti said at the time.