General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) has handed over the bearing support structure (BSS) for the US Navy’s first Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN).

The BSS is the first of two structures that the company is building under contract with the US Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division (NSWCCD).

In 2019, NSWCCD awarded a contract to the company to fabricate and deliver two BSSs for the Columbia-class submarines.

GA-EMS president Scott Forney said: “For a project involving the size and complexity of a BSS, we brought the technical strength of our manufacturing engineering, machining, welding, and quality expertise together to successfully execute the deliverable on spec and on time.

“We are extremely proud of our team as we continue to manufacture and deliver these critical structures to support the Navy’s Columbia-class submarine programme.”

The company is manufacturing the two BSSs at its facilities in Tupelo, Mississippi, US.

In September 2021, GA-EMS secured a contract to deliver the second BSS for the second Columbia-class submarine.

GA-EMS has already started manufacturing activities at its facility, with delivery scheduled to take place by the end of next year.

The full construction work on second Columbia-class submarine will begin in fiscal year 2024.

Forney added: “The navy has stated that the BSS is the largest nickel-copper weldment built to such exacting specifications ever created in the US.

“The BSS is indeed one of the most significant projects we’ve undertaken and demonstrates our extensive technical expertise and unique manufacturing capabilities to meet the needs of the navy for a variety of complex components.”

The new Columbia-class SSBNs will replace the currently serving US Navy’s Ohio-class submarine fleet.

In 2017, the US Navy awarded a contract to General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) to construct the Columbia-class submarines.

Under this contract, the navy intends to procure 12 submarines over the next 20 years.

The boats are being constructed by GDEB in collaboration with Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division.