The US Navy this afternoon is expected to award a whopping $14 billion contract to General Dynamics to build eight new attack submarines, providing a stable workload for at least the next decade at the company's Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, Conn., and a key manufacturing facility on Narragansset Bay in Quonset Point, R.I., according to several knowledgeable sources.
The contract for Virginia class submarines "guarantees work on the New England waterfront at least through 2019," said a company official who asked not to be identified before the official announcement from the Department of Defense, which is expected at 5 pm.
General Dynamics employs about 10,500 people between its shipyard in Groton and hull-fabrication plant in Rhode Island.
The company, headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, is the prime contractor on the Virginia project and is splitting the construction evenly between its New England facilities and a Northrop Grumman shipyard in Newport News, Virginia.
The multi-year buy would complete the new class of attacks subs -- which include more than 100 design changes such as improved sonar and missile capacity -- bringing the total to 18. Five have already been completed, five more are currently under construction, with the remaining eight to be ordered today.
The most recent addition to class, the USS New Hampshire, was built in Quonset Point and Groton and delivered to the Navy in October.
The contract would provide enough funding to cover two submarines in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, with the entire fleet slated to be completed by the end of the decade.
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