The Navy’s next attack submarine will feature technology in the Columbia-class program and be significantly larger than the current class of the Virginia-class attack submarines, the chief executive of BWX Technologies said on Monday as part of the company’s third-quarter earnings call.
The head of the company that builds the nuclear reactors for the Navy’s aircraft carriers and submarines said the follow-on to the Virginia SSN would be significantly larger than the current crop of attack boats.
“We do expect it will be a larger type of submarine, probably in the size class of the Columbia, but there’s not much more to tell than that. But we’re working with our Navy customer in what that would look like and how we could take that into production,” Rex Geveden said.
“It has the moniker SSN(X) until it gets a class name, and there’s some thought, discussion and analysis. It would be the follow-on to the Virginia fast-attack submarine, and it would feather in sometime in the late 2030s.”
USNI News understands that Geveden was referring to the submarine’s diameter rather than its underwater displacement. The Columbia class is planned to displace about 20,000 tons – about 2,000 more than the current Ohio ballistic missile submarines. The current Virginias displace about 8,000 tons. The Columbia-class hulls are about 42-feet in diameter, while the Virginias are 36-feet wide.
A wider hull for submarines can improve characteristics like stealth, allowing ship designers to build in more sound-deadening technology and allow room to develop systems to increase a boat’s speed, but it is more expansive to build.