General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) has secured a contract to manufacture and deliver components for the US Navy’s Columbia-class nuclear-powered submarines.

Under the contract, awarded by Naval Surface Warfare Center, the Carderock Division (NSWCCD) of GA-EMS will fabricate two large bearing support structures (BSSs).

In May this year, Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) cut the first steel plate for the lead vessel of the Columbia-class submarine programme.

The 560ft USS Columbia (SSBN 826) and other vessels in its class will replace the navy’s existing fleet of Ohio-class nuclear ballistic submarines.

The programme will include the construction of 12 submarines under a collaboration between General Dynamics Electric Boat and HII’s Newport News division, with the work share set to be 80:20.

GA-EMS president Scott Forney said: “This contract leverages our extensive manufacturing competencies to ensure these critical structures are delivered to NSWCCD as the first new Columbia-class submarine begins construction in October 2020.

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“We have a proven track record in the manufacture of first-time quality components and safety-critical systems for undersea and surface vessels. This award further positions GA-EMS as a ‘go-to’ resource for shipyards to get complex components into production to meet hard and fast schedule deadlines.”

The two BSSs for the Columbia-class will be manufactured at GA-EMS’ facilities in Tupelo, Mississippi.

GA-EMS Programs vice-president Rolf Ziesing said: “We have spent the last decade developing and delivering first-of-kind technologies, such as electromagnetic aircraft launch systems and advanced arresting gear, to support the next-generation fleet.

“We adhere to industry-leading quality standards and manufacturing processes to ensure we deliver products in spec and correct the first time. And we continually expand our skill sets and manufacturing capabilities to meet the technological challenges facing the navy’s modernisation efforts.”

Electric Boat expects to deliver the first boat under the Columbia-class programme to the navy in 2027.

The navy is procuring the new nuclear-armed submarines to support the US strategic deterrent mission.