General Dynamics Electric Boat today delivered the nuclear-powered attack submarine North Dakota (SSN-784) on time and more than $30 million below target cost.
Electric Boat is a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics.
North Dakota is the 11th ship of the Virginia Class, which provides the Navy with the capabilities required to retain undersea dominance well into the 21st century. North Dakota will join the fleet in a commissioning ceremony Oct. 25 at the Navy submarine base in Groton.
North Dakota is also the first of the eight-ship group of Virginia-class submarines known as Block III. These ships embody a Navy and industry commitment to reduce costs without decreasing capabilities through an initiative comprising a multi-year procurement strategy, improvements in construction practices and the Design For Affordability (DFA) program.
The DFA program focuses primarily on the redesign of the submarine’s bow, lowering program costs by $800 million, increasing capability and providing the capacity for additional growth at no additional cost. This redesign replaces a sonar sphere with a Large Aperture Bow (LAB) Array and the 12 individual vertical-launch missile tubes with two Virginia payload tubes (VPTs), which will each initially carry six missiles in multiple all-up round canisters.
The new LAB Array eliminates hundreds of hull penetrations and replaces tranducers with lower cost, life-of-the-ship hydrophones. By nearly doubling the payload space available from 1,200 cubic feet with the 12 vertical launch tubes to 2,300 cubic feet, the VPTs will enable Virginia-class ships to deploy a wider variety of payloads.
“The full range of Block III improvements were successfully tested during North Dakota’s sea trials,” said Kurt Hesch, vice president and Virginia program manager, noting that the submarine received the highest quality score to date from the Navy Board of Inspection and Survey.
“This is an important accomplishment that reflects the skill and commitment of everyone involved in the Virginia-class submarine program. Maintaining this level of performance helps the Navy attain its shipbuilding goals and ensures our continuing success as a business.”
Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding have delivered 11 Virginia-class submarines to the Navy: USS Virginia (SSN-774), USS Texas (SSN-775), USS Hawaii (SSN-776), USS North Carolina (SSN-777), USS New Hampshire (SSN-778), USS New Mexico (SSN-779), USS Missouri (SSN-780), USS California (SSN-781), USS Mississippi (SSN-782) USS Minnesota (SSN-783) and North Dakota. Seven additional Block III submarines are under construction, while the 10 ships of the recently awarded Block IV contract will continue the two-per-year construction pace through 2018.