The US Navy’s Los Angeles-class submarine, USS Columbus (SSN 762), approaches the end of its eight-year-long engineered overhaul.

HII Newport News Shipbuilding, a US naval industrial prime and contractor for the submarine’s sustainment since 2015, has received the final funds worth $283.9m. This will see the boat return to active service sometime after December 2025, when the Navy expects the work to be fulfilled.

This last modification includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract modification to just over $300m. Fiscal 2024 operations and maintenance (Navy) funds in the amount of $168.9m will be obligated at the time of award and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

The Los Angeles-class, sometimes called the LA-class or the 688-class, is a class of 61 nuclear-powered fast attack submarines that were commissioned between 1976 and 1996; only 41 remain in active service, according to the Navy. The service also tells us that the class contains more nuclear submarines than any other class in the world.

The submarine is armed with both the land-attack and anti-ship version of the Tomahawk missile from Raytheon. The land-attack Tomahawk has a range of 2,500km. 

Previously, nine Los Angeles boats were deployed in the Gulf War in 1991, during which Tomahawk missiles were launched from two of the submarines. More than a decade later, 12 were deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom – the US-led ground invasion of Iraq – in March/April 2003; all 12 launched Tomahawk missiles.

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The US Department of Defense has awarded numerous contracts modifications to the contractor, which initially secured $288.6m in August 2015 to help modernise the vessel. The company later received a $136m modification in November 2019 for repair, upgrade and maintenance services. Later, the government added $194m in March 2021 and another recently $115m in April last year.