all-domain defence partner HII recently broke ground on a new project that will support nuclear submarine construction at its Newport News Shipbuilding division. The Multi-Class Submarine Production Facility is one of three new facilities, enabling NNS to further support the construction and delivery of Columbia– and Virginia-class submarines.

“The Navy has made it clear how important both the Columbia and Virginia-class submarine programs are to our nation’s defence,” said Brandi Smith, NNS vice president of Columbia-class submarine construction. “The Multi-Class Submarine Production Facility is an intentional investment to accelerate our efforts to deliver the highest quality submarines our Navy needs.”

The groundbreaking marked the first phase of construction. Work on two additional facilities is expected to begin later this year. The Multi-Class Submarine Production Facility is designed to be adaptable, allowing NNS to support both Columbia- and Virginia-class construction.

The Multi-Class Submarine Production Facility is funded jointly by the Navy and HII, and is part of $1.9 billion in capital investments HII is making at NNS between 2016 and 2025. NNS is one of only two shipyards capable of designing and building nuclear-powered submarines for the U.S. Navy.

The Navy has identified the Columbia-class as its top acquisition priority. Twelve Columbia-class boats will replace the fleet of Ohio-class nuclear ballistic submarines and take over the role of the nation’s sea-based strategic deterrent; these submarines will provide the most survivable leg of the nation’s strategic triad.

NNS is a major contractor and shipbuilding partner in the Columbia-class program, designing, constructing and delivering six module sections per submarine under contract to General Dynamics Electric Boat.

Under a separate teaming agreement with Electric Boat, NNS is also building Virginia-class submarines for the Navy. The advanced capabilities of Virginia-class submarines increase firepower, manoeuvrability and stealth.

In November, NNS celebrated the keel authentication for Arkansas (SSN 800), the 27th Virginia-class fast attack submarine, as the shipyard continues to invest in its workforce and facilities to make steady progress on delivering these important assets to the Navy.

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  1. This HII based article is significant in that the USN is part funding a Multi-Class Submarine Production Facility with no reference to the AUKUS SSN pact existing in the article.

    This is a strong indicator that US HII and GD EB will not be the major designers of the AUKUS SSN hull. The hull design role falls to the UK’s BAE by default.

    • You might be right. I would be pleasantly surprised if the task force had made sufficient progress as to decide on a design, a work share and a timeline. I also note that the BAES effort on the Type 26 / Hunter program has been less than stellar – Australian contract awarded in 2018; first ship in 2031.

  2. Hi Kym

    Yes, I’m hoping the Task Force will at least decide on the UK or US for hull design and construction, reactor and US Combat System. This is even if design details are not nutted out until (say) 2032. Even then details may be largely secret matters.

    As we experienced with the Attack-class nutting out work share and a detailed timeline still was not completed 5 years into the Attack Program. Five years being from April 2016 until Attack was terminated in September 2021.


    • Optimist. You might be right, but part of the problem as I see it is that no one in the task force has spoken with a single person in industry. Not one. They aren’t allowed to, supposedly because of issues regarding future competitions. Without serious input directly from industry all that they can come up with is highly speculative – and probably in need of a great deal more study.

    • Those 5 years that nothing was done, was because it wasn’t going to eventuate, but an excercise in perception. 5 years and 5 billion dollars was cheap for doing nothing. In LNP Tom foolery.

  3. Hi Kym

    Yes, I think you’re right. The Task Force (TF) may be only day to day “talking” to those cleared to Top Secret Special Access in A UK & US. The most comprehensive, but barely changing public info seems to be the TF website itself

    Another, erratic, flow is A UK US Ministers’ speeches and Admirals CLEARED to talk eg.

    and thank God for the UK, US mainstream media, USN and RN which releases much more info than the

    risk averse RAN and Aus Government (only too happy to spend A$500 Billion taxpayers money through to the first AUKUS SSN being actually commissioned in 2047.

    Yes, all we might expect in March 2023, from Biden, this month’s UK PM, Albanese, Marles and Mead is:

    “Australia will be receiving continued assistance, in coming years, from the UK and US to develop an AUKUS nuclear propelled, but not nuclear armed, submarine.”

  4. Just discovered something I didn’t really notice before, at . This is not a bad Youtube video, which I also found at .

    It includes shots of Astutes, Virginias and a Los Angeles – all after 50 seconds. There appears to be equivalent airtime for Astutes (presumably implying the SSN(R)) and Virginias – leaving me none the wiser on what the Task Force/Aus DoD may prefer.

    Although elsewhere I’m predicting UK SSN(R) hull and reactor = 60% chance and late model Virginia/SSN(X) = 30% chance.

    Either way both hull choices will include the Combat System the US share’s with the Collins SSK – though a much more capable Combat System version harnessing the massive power from an SSN’s reactor (versus the Collins’ piddly diesel power).

    All might be revealed in the late 2040s when an Aus SSN, might, just might, be commissioned…probably after my time.


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