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Electric Boat Awarded $30M Virginia Sub Contract

Photonics.com
Jun 2006
WASHINGTON, June 9, 2006 -- Electric Boat Corp., a Groton, Conn.-based business unit of General Dynamics Corp., was awarded a $30.7 contract by the Naval Sea System Command yesterday for design improvements to the Virginia-class submarine. Ninety-four percent of the work will be done at Groton; 5 percent at  Quonset Point, R.I.; and 1 percent at Newport, R.I.; it is expected to be completed by September 2007.

Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year, according to a Navy statement. Electric Boat will perform research and development studies to evaluate new technologies for the subs, General Dynamics said.

virginiasub.jpgEarlier this week, the president of Electric Boat said at a press briefing that he is confident his firm can cut submarine construction costs enough to convince the Navy to double production to two submarines per year. (They reportedly cost an estimated $2.6 billion each.)



An Electric Boat Corp. computer-generated image of the Virginia Class attack submarine.
(Photo courtesy US Navy)

The Navy wants Electric Boat to reduce costs from about $2.4 billion to about $2 billion for each sub, and Casey told the press it could meet that challenge. He said if the government helps with supplies and other cost-cutting programs, the price tag could be reduced to $2 billion per sub by 2009.

According to an Associated Press report, Electric Boat is working with Connecticut's congressional delegation to lobby for increased sub production, which could help save jobs at the Groton and Quonset Point facilities. Planned layoffs at Electric Boat were announced earlier this year, and officials said between 1900 and 2400 jobs could be in jeopardy.

Although the Seawolf submarine was developed to provide an eventual replacement for the US Navy Los Angeles-class submarines in combating Soviet forces, the prohibitive unit cost and changing strategic requirements led the US Navy to define a smaller new-generation attack submarine.

The 377-foot Virginia-class is an advanced stealth nuclear-powered sub used for deep-ocean antisubmarine warfare and for littoral (shallow water) operations. It is the first sub to be equipped with photonic masts, which provide the imaging, navigation, electronic warfare and communications functions of a conventional optical periscope, the Navy said. Each submarine has two Kollmorgen AN/BVS-1 photonic masts, which do not penetrate (retract into) the ship's hull. The mast rises like a car antenna, in a telescopic motion. Sensors mounted on the nonhull-penetrating photonic mast include LLTV (low-light TV), thermal imager and laser rangefinder. The mast is the universal modular mast developed by Northampton, Mass.-based Kollmorgen Corp. and its Italian subsidiary, Calzoni.

The Boeing LMRS (long-term mine reconnaissance system) is also deployed on the Virginia class. LMRS includes two 6-m autonomous unmanned underwater vehicles, an 18-m robotic recovery arm and support electronics. Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems is supplying the lightweight, wide-aperture array (LWWAA) system, based on fiber-optic arrays instead of traditional ceramic hydrophone sensors. LWWAA is a passive ASW sonar system comprised of three large array panels mounted on either side of the submarine's hull.

Electric Boat delivered the first submarine of the Virginia class, USS Virginia (SSN-774), to the Navy in October 2004. With its construction partner Northrop Grumman, the company has contracts to build another nine Virginia-class ships. The third ship of the class, Hawaii(SSN-776), will be christened at Electric Boat on June 17, General Dynamics said.

For more information, visit: www.gdeb.com



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