General Dynamics Electric Boat (EB) will begin post-delivery work on the USS Oregon (SSN 793) at its shipyard in Groton, Connecticut.

The original equipment manufacturer will complete the $33m sole-source contract by 16 May 2024.

The work follows the vessel’s change of command in April this year, from commander Lacy Lodmell to commander John Ross. Before this, the vessel was the 20th Virgina-class SSN to be delivered to the US Navy, and the second Block IV unit of this variant, in February 2022.

The unit also underwent sea trials in December 2021, which were directed by US Navy Admiral Frank Caldwell Jr., director – Naval Nuclear Propulsion. The trials included a range of submarine and propulsion-plant operations, submerging for the first time, and high-speed runs on and below the surface to demonstrate that the ship’s propulsion plant is fully mission-capable.

Block IV Virginia-class submarines incorporate design changes focused on reduced total ownership cost. By making these smaller-scale design changes to increase the component-level lifecycle of the submarine, the Navy will increase the periodicity between depot maintenance availabilities and increase the number of deployments.

Blocks I-III Virginia-class submarines are planned to undergo four depot maintenance availabilities and conduct 14 deployments. Block IV design changes are intended to reduce planned availabilities by one to three, and increase deployments to 15.

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SSNs are multi-mission platforms enabling five of the six navy maritime strategy core capabilities – sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security and deterrence.

They are designed to excel in anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship warfare, strike warfare, special operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, irregular warfare and mine warfare. Attack submarines project power ashore with special operations forces and Tomahawk cruise missiles in the prevention or response to regional crises.

Underwater capabilities

President of EB, Kevin Graney, suggests that the US Navy is prodding industry to deliver the coveted capabilities required of an advanced force.

The DoD stress the need to keep pace with China’s advancing military capabilities. An arms race has ensued, which spurred growing investment in the US defence industrial base.

The North American region, supported by the US Navy’s multi-year procurement programmes, will maintain its leading position with a compound annual growth rate of 3.7%, according to GlobalData intelligence.

The procurement of Virginia (SSN) and Columbia (SLBM) class submarines are driving the growth of the submarine market in the US.

With a robust capability for anti-submarine warfare, Virginia SSNs include specialised weapons, sensors, and other equipment that enable them to perform land attacks, gather intelligence, conduct mine reconnaissance, and support special forces.