USS Washington SSN-787 is the fourteenth submarine in the Virginia Class. It is currently under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding in Norfolk VA.
One of the key design considerations in the Virginia Class Submarine construction program is to minimize construction costs by design innovation and continuous process improvement.
Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) is teamed with General Dynamics Electric Boat (GC/EB) to build Virginia-class submarines. The joint production arrangement is a departure from prior U.S. submarine construction practices, under which complete submarines were built in individual yards. The goal of the arrangement is to keep both GD/EB and NNS involved in building nuclear-powered submarines, and thereby maintain two U.S. shipyards capable of building nuclear-powered submarines, while minimizing the cost penalties of using two yards rather than one to build a submarine design that is being procured at a relatively low annual rate.
A major improvement in the construction process was the development of modular construction techniques. Newport News Shipbuilding builds the stern, habitability and machinery spaces, torpedo room sail and Bow. Electric Boat builds the pressure hull, engine room and control room. Newport News Shipbuilding each build the reactor plant as well alternate on the final assembly and test.
The modules are built vertically then turned on their side to load the equipment. The completed modules are then shipped by barge to the assembly yard.
By increasing the size of the modules that form each submarine, so that each submarine can be built out of a smaller number of modules, the shipyards have reduced shipyard construction time to 60 months, which allows 2 submarines to be produced each year. Newport News commissioning odd number hulls in the spring and Electric Boat even numbered hulls in the fall.