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Courtney Statement on Block V Submarine Production Contract

December 2, 2019
Press Release

NORWICH, CT – Congressman Joe Courtney, Chairman of the House Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, issued the following statement after the award of the Block V multi-year procurement contract for the Virginia class submarine program by the U.S. Navy to General Dynamics Electric Boat.

The $22.2 billion contract provides for materials and construction of up to 10 Virginia class submarines through 2023. That total includes full funding for nine Virginia class submarines, eight equipped with the Virginia Payload Module (VPM), and advanced funding for long lead components for a tenth boat. The contract also includes options for additional submarines in both 2022 and 2023, as required in a provision of the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act that was authored by Congressman Courtney.

“The long-awaited contract awarded today – the largest ever awarded by the Navy – provides stability and certainty to our submarine shipbuilders, greater deterrent capability to our combatant commanders, and increased workload for the industrial base,” Courtney said. “The submarines that will be built under this contract are not your normal Virginia class – each new Block V VPM submarine is 90 feet longer with a payload module that carries an additional price tag of $500 million. As a result, each of the advanced submarines requires more construction work than the previously-built versions. That’s good news that continues to support historic surge in workload and workforce at the Groton shipyard and throughout the Connecticut and national supply chain that supports it.”

The new contract represents significant growth in funding and workload for the Groton shipyard compared to the $17.6 billion Block IV contract, awarded in 2014. Each new VPM-equipped submarine represents 25% more work than the regular Virginia class submarine. According to analysis by Congressman Courtney’s office, the base contract of nine boats, eight which are equipped with VPM, represents a total workload equivalent to about 11 regular Virginia class submarines.

“In the months leading up to today’s announcement, I have been in regular and direct contact with Navy and Defense Department leaders to emphasize the need for a strong commitment to a ten-boat contract,” Courtney added. “The inclusion of advanced funding for long lead components for all ten boats, typically worth around $450 million per boat, sends a powerful signal that the Navy has heeded that message. As Chairman of Seapower Subcommittee I will continue urge the Navy and the shipbuilders to do all they can to see the full potential of this contract realized in the years ahead.”

“This announcement comes at an exciting time for our region as we prepare to support not just the submarines in this contract, but the Columbia class due to start construction next year. I know that our hard-working shipbuilders, our partners working to prepare the workforce, and our region is up to the task,” Courtney concluded.

Congressman Courtney is Chairman of the House Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, which oversees the Virginia class submarine program, the Columbia class program, and other shipbuilding programs.

Additional Background

The authority for the contract was provided in Courtney-authored legislation included in the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act to provide multiyear procurement authority for up to 13 Virginia-class attack submarines in Block V. This authority allowed the Navy to sustain the two a year rate at a minimum, and add additional boats in 2020, 2022 and 2023 – reflecting years that the Navy itself identified as having capacity to support additional submarine production.

The FY2019 NDAA included a requirement, also authored by Congressman Courtney, for the Navy to provide for options an additional submarine in both 2022 and 2023. The Navy has consistently cited both years as having potential shipyard capacity to support the construction of additional submarines.