Tag Archives: USS North Dakota

US – Two submarines on deck at Electic Boat

Submitted photo courtesy of General Dynamics Electric Boat
The first module for the future USS Illinois, the 13th member of the Virginia class, arrives at Electric Boat in Groton by barge from EB’s Quonset Point facility Tuesday, June 18, 2013.
For first time in decade, shipyard builds two boats at once

 

Groton — For the first time in a decade, Electric Boat is simultaneously working on two submarines in its main building shed.

The first module for the future USS Illinois, the 13th member of the Virginia class, arrived by barge from EB’s Quonset Point facility Tuesday. It was placed next to the North Dakota, the 11th of the class.

Two submarines have not been side by side in Building 260 since 2003, when EB was building the USS Jimmy Carter and the USS Virginia, the first of the class.

“This is our first step to ramping up in Groton to two boats a year,” said Todd Beardsley, the ship’s manager at EB for the Illinois (SSN 786).

The first module for the follow-on submarine at EB normally arrives after its predecessor is put into the water for the first time. The “float off” for the North Dakota (SSN 784) will not happen until September or October. That submarine is on track for the fastest delivery of the class yet.

“Everything keeps getting earlier and earlier, so we’re ready to go to two boats a year,” Beardsley added.

The Navy began buying two submarines per year in 2011 but the Groton waterfront is where the final assembly and testing of submarines is done, so it is not projected to have a steady workload until 2015. EB is under contract to build the 11th through the 18th ships of the class, with Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.

About 600 people in Groton and Quonset Point are working on the Illinois. Next year, once all four modules are in Groton, nearly 1,000 people will be working in the yard on the submarine.

The arrival of the first module, in this case, the forward half of the engine room, is a milestone, Beardsley said, because major work on the submarine can now begin in Groton. The next task is to attach the reactor compartment to the 50-foot-long cylindrical module, he said.

Cmdr. Jess Porter, the submarine’s commanding officer, arrived in Groton on Monday to begin assembling the crew. The first group, about 35 people, will spend the next few weeks in school in Schenectady, N.Y., learning how to operate the propulsion plant, Porter said.

Porter said being in command of a new Virginia-class submarine is “a phenomenal opportunity” because the culture for the ship is set in the early stages of construction.

“That culture, in large measure, goes a long way toward building that ship to a viable and powerful platform,” he said.

First Lady Michelle Obama was named sponsor for the submarine last year.

Construction on the Illinois began in March 2011. The submarine is contracted to be delivered to the Navy in 66 months, on Aug. 31, 2016. Beardsley said his goal is to finish earlier in 2016 and to beat whatever record the North Dakota sets when it is delivered in early 2014.

Female officers will begin reporting aboard Virginia-class submarines in January 2015. Porter said that if women are assigned to the Illinois, “my ship will be ready to support that.”

Porter, 46, who is from Pocatello, Idaho, took the USS Missouri through the delivery and commissioning process as that submarine’s executive officer. He spent 12 years as an enlisted nuclear electrician’s mate in the surface fleet before being commissioned as an officer and joining the submarine force. He served on the USS Michigan and the USS Connecticut.

The shipyard is a challenging environment, Porter said, but the crew will come away from it knowing “that ship inside and out.” Porter and Beardsley met for the first time on Wednesday so Porter could see the hull section.

Outside of the bustling building shed, EB’s three graving docks are currently filled with three submarines undergoing repairs. Beardsley, who has worked at EB for 14 years, remembers when the Jimmy Carter and the Virginia were there.

“This is by far the busiest we’ve been since then,” he said.

Source – The Day

Submarine with new design nears completion

Submarine with new design nears completion

The military contractor, which got a boost this week when Congress agreed to not delay the purchase of a Virginia-class sub, is hoping that its record of delivering submarines under budget and ahead of schedule will help protect it from cuts in Washington.”There’s no question we’re in a very constrained fiscal environment,” said Robert Hamilton, a company spokesman. “Any program that is over-running on costs and schedule is going to get a second look.”

The last major piece of the new submarine, the 113-foot-long bow section, arrived at the Groton shipyard a week ago from the company’s partner contractor in the Virginia-class submarine project, Newport News Shipbuilding. The Navy contract calls for the completed sub to be delivered in August 2014.

The new design introduces larger, more versatile weapons tubes in the bow. Despite the changes, the submarine is expected to be ready for delivery ahead of schedule, partly because the design reduced the number of parts in the bow and made construction more manageable, said Chris Cameron, a construction program manager at Electric Boat.

The U.S. is building two Virginia-class submarines a year, at a cost of about $2.6 billion each. The cost-savings for the Navy that come with the redesign of the bow will add up to about $800 million over 20 submarines, Hamilton said.

A budget proposal from President Barack Obama had called for the Navy to purchase only one submarine in 2014, but the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives agreed this week to include money for a second sub that year in the National Defense Authorization Act.

Bob Ross, the director of the state’s Office of Military Affairs, noted the Virginia-class program has been praised for efficiency by the defense secretary.

“It’s really great from our position to be able to articulate that this is the premier, major acquisition program in the country right now,” Ross said. “It puts us on very solid ground when we argue don’t disrupt that production schedule.”

Like other defense contractors around the state and the nation, Electric Boat is still keeping a wary eye on developments in Washington, where talks are under way to reach a deal that would avoid the double hit of tax hikes and automatic spending reductions dubbed the “fiscal cliff.”

Even if those automatic cuts do not take effect, Ross said Connecticut is expected to see a 10 percent reduction in its defense spending over the next six years. He said the automatic cuts could raise that figure as high as 18 percent, but officials have no way to know which programs would be hit.

“The sooner we deal with this issue and remove the uncertainty, the better it is for all of defense contractors in the state,” Ross said.

Source – Hampton Roads