A $5.1 billion contract has been awarded to General Dynamics Electric Boat for development work for the Columbia Class and Dreadnought class submarines.

The contract (the notice of which displayed below) is for the design, completion, component and technology development and prototyping efforts for the Columbia class ballistic missile submarines and also includes UK specific work for the Dreadnought class ballistic missile submarines related to the common missile compartment.

“General Dynamics Electric Boat Corp., Groton, Connecticut, is being awarded a $5,071,534,074 cost-plus-incentive-fee with special incentives contract for the Integrated Product and Process Development design completion for the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs).

The contract also includes component and technology development, missile tube module and reactor compartment bulkhead prototyping and manufacturing efforts, and United Kingdom Strategic Weapon Support System kit manufacturing for the Columbia class ballistic missile submarines. This contract includes foreign military sales to the United Kingdom (14 percent). Work will be performed in Groton, Connecticut (77.4 percent); Newport News, Virginia (12.7 percent); and Quonset, Rhode Island (9.9 percent), and is expected to be completed by December 2031.

Fiscal 2017 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy); fiscal 2017 research, design, test and evaluation (Navy); and United Kingdom funding in the amount of $175,101,310 will be obligated at the time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  This contract was not competitively procured in accordance with 10 U.S. Code 2304(c)(1) – only General Dynamics Electric Boat currently possesses the entirety of the nuclear ballistic missile submarine design/engineering workforce and data environment to support completion of the highly specialized submarine design products and integration efforts required to meet all of the contemplated technical and schedule contract requirements.

The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity (N00024-17-C-2117).”

“The Columbia class submarine is the most important acquisition program the Navy has today,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “This contract represents a significant investment in maintaining our strategic deterrent into the future, as well as our ongoing partnership with the United Kingdom.”


  1. I can’t help wondering whether there’s a cheaper alternative to providing our nuclear deterrent. It’s an awful lot of money that could be spent on other weapons. Either that or should come out of a separate budget.

  2. It used to be funded out of central government before CamBourne decided it should be part of the defence budget which it also cut by 30%.

  3. Interesting, is it just me or does anyone think it would be better if BAE and GE teamed up to design the same submarines? It’s not like they are exportable but would save the duplication of R&D.

    • My initial thoughts are that it would have been a really good idea although the US would have less to gain in percentage cost terms because its fixed design costs are amortised across more subs hence are a smaller cost per sub vs the UK’s design cost overhead per sub. Also, the US is planning bigger subs, 16 Trident tubes vs the 12 or sometimes even 8 talked about for Dreadnought (do we know for sure what Dreadnought will have yet?).

      Once the UK getting bigger subs than it would otherwise have built has been factored in I wonder how the numbers would work out. I suppose that given the common missile compartment (CMC) is a block of 4 Trident launch tubes the UK units could have been built with 3 CMC and the 4th FFBNW (or probably not even fitted for, just empty space with no intention to ever fit). Perhaps the UK could have used the extra space to improve crew facilities to try and help with recruitment issues!

      A missed opportunity now, and I am sure there would have been some squabbling over work share, but for the US one other advantage would have come from the fact that the UK needs to get its new SSBN into service before the US does so our boats would have been first off the production line and would have taken the brunt of the teething problems and acted as a de-risking measure for the US boats.

      – Julian

      • Julian
        The UK boats will indeed have 12 tubes in 3 ‘sections’ with the US boats having 4. Dreadnought will, however routinely deploy with only 8 missiles, although the remaining 4 tube capacity could be utilised in a period of tension. It looks as though the British boats will be first into service, and will have significant additional space for accommodation/training. What I can’t understand is why such a massively expensive redesign of the CMC is required, rather than just an update of the existing Ohio/Vanguard which is obviously still perfectly viable?

  4. The continuum of nuclear ballistic subs is now vital, in order to protect the generations to come in the 21st century. Equally important, is the rapid development of a ‘sky net’ anti-ballistic umbrella, for the European and US populations. The fast proliferation of nuclear weapons is now the top priority for the free World to find ways and means to offer protection from such weapons.

    The UK should also reconsider the Rota stations, which were once the backbone of the Civil Defence. These were well established along with underground command centres, which for the large part have been left to rot. Recommissioning the tunnel complexes in the West Country, which were once vast and capable of accommodating hundreds if not thousands of people.

    Any incoming nuclear bomb on the UK, will probably be limited and aimed at either London or other principal cities. With that prospect in mind, emergency provisions should be quickly established where many thousands of people can find some protection. A nationwide programme needs to be created where all citizens know where to go or what their home requires to protect.

    To some extent, the old Civil Defence manuals need to be reopened, and where applicable, be reinstated. The likelihood of a nuclear strike on the West is now as real as it was at the height of the Cold War.

    • Your talking about nuclear shelters to accommodate 60 million people? Given a max of 30 mins warning following an ICBM launch, more would probably perish in the panic to get to the shelters than from the attack itself!

      • As I stated above, the short-term issue is London or another city, or possibly both. That does not equate to 60 million. London could quickly come up with a ‘Protection Plan’ using the tube and Cross Rail as shelters. As for cities that don’t have a tube system alternative shelters need to be considered.
        As for panic, there’s always that risk but as experienced by Londoners during WW2 that wasn’t a huge problem.
        Sadly, any nuclear threat will come from either rogue states or religious factions who will have limited stocks, and certainly not enough to blanket bomb the UK. Because of the limited deployment capability, there is a real opportunity to create a civil defense protection plan for the capital, which could offer 40+% chance of survival?
        Of cause, it’s not just nuclear but chemical devices that pose a huge worry, and a civil defence force as seen in the 1950/60’s would be worthy of serious consideration in the coming years.

  5. trident is a gigantic waste of money the costs are sucking the money out the rest of our armed forces yes people would say that its important to defend our country but the money could be spend providing for the rest of our navy on conventional weapons or even increasing our hunter killer submarine fleet recruiting and training more sailors marines solders theres only so much money to go around


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