The US Naval Sea Systems Command has awarded its largest shipbuilding contract ever, worth a record US$17.8 billion. The fixed-price incentive multiyear contract for ten Block IV Virginia class attack submarines is fortwo vessels per year up to 2018, from hull numbers SSN 792 throughtoSSN 801.

The size of the order is anticipated to save US$2 billion through production efficiencies, together with design modifications that reduce maintenance periods, bringing down the cost of each Block IV Virginia to around $1.78 billion, compared to $2.6 billion for the first Block III boat.

The latest order follows on from a contract for eight Block III vessels. Work will continue to be shared equally between General Dynamics Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Newport News, with each responsible for specific sections. Ten Virginia class submarines are now in service, with another eight under construction or on order. USS North Dakota, first of the Block III group, is to be delivered this summer. None of the Block IV submarines has yet been named.


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