Top Lawmaker Calls Out Subcontractor in Next-Gen Submarine’s Delays

(Bloomberg) -- A top Republican lawmaker called out Northrop Grumman Corp. for its role over delays in the first delivery of the Pentagon’s next-generation nuclear-missile submarine, saying the extended overall timeline was “beyond frustrating.”

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“The biggest problem was a particular subcontractor that overpromised and under-delivered on an extremely important part of the submarine,” said Representative Ken Calvert of California, who chairs the House defense appropriations subcommittee. “Does anything shock me? Not any more.”

Asked if he was referring to Northrop, Calvert confirmed that he was. Northrop Grumman was contracted by the Navy to deliver the first turbine generators by 2021 for the USS District of Columbia, the first of the Navy’s new Columbia-class submarines.

Instead, the turbine generators are projected to be delivered in early 2025, according to the Navy. That’s contributed to a delay potentially as long as 16 months for the District of Columbia, which had been scheduled to be delivered in October 2027 so that it could go on its first deployment in 2031.

A Northrop spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier: Nuclear-Missile Sub Delayed Up to 16 Months Over Bow, Generators

Each Columbia-class submarine will have two generators that provide the vessel’s propulsion and electrical power requirements.

“The sub won’t work without one of those things,” Calvert said on Tuesday.

General Dynamics Corp. and HII are designing and constructing the 12-boat class, a roughly $130 billion program, with each sub assembled from six large hull segments. During construction, these “super modules” are outfitted with systems and connections before final assembly by General Dynamics.

HII is also late delivering the vessel’s bow section. HII was to ship the bow in May 2025 from its yard in Newport News, Virginia, to the General Dynamics facility in Groton, Connecticut. That delivery is now estimated to take place in June 2026, or 13 months late, according to internal Navy figures. The service has declined to discuss the reasons.

Calvert’s defense panel is proposing $3.3 billion for procurement of the second submarine — the amount requested by the Pentagon for the next fiscal year starting Oct. 1. It also included and $6.2 billion in advance funding to buy materials for subsequent vessels.

The bill also includes $4 billion for improvements to the US submarine industrial base on top of another $4 billion approved for this calendar year as part of various spending bills.

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