The Navy recently awarded a $9.4 billion contract to begin construction work on what has for years been its biggest modernization priority: A project to build a new class of at least a dozen nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines that’s expected to cost $110 billion once all is said and done.
The contract for the new Columbia class went to General Dynamics Electric Boat, one of only two U.S. firms capable of building nuclear-powered vessels. It is the first class of ballistic missile subs the Navy has begun since the 1970s, and will eventually replace the current fleet of Ohio class boats when that fleet reaches its retirement age decades from now.
Senior Navy leaders have long said that the program — which they see as vital, since submarines are the most “survivable” part of the military’s nuclear weapons arsenal — will be placed at the front of the line for funding and construction capacity for years to come. That makes it especially important to hold Columbia’s costs in check so they don’t swallow the rest of DoD’s maritime acquisition budget.
James Geurts, the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition said there’s every reason to think the Navy can do that.