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Navy aims to buy 5 Columbia-class submarines as a block

The decision could save taxpayers billions of dollars.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — When the Navy eventually replaces the aging Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, it will be with the upcoming Columbia-class subs.

Those new ones are built in part at Newport News Shipbuilding, in a special teaming arrangement with General Dynamic Electric Boat in Connecticut -- similar to what the two companies have done for years with the Virginia-class attack submarines.

Approximately 21% of the Columbia subs will be constructed here, and then assembled in Connecticut.

RELATED: Nuclear-powered attack submarine to be commissioned at Naval Station Norfolk

Now, Breaking Defense reports that the Navy hopes to purchase the next five Columbia-class subs as part of a five ship "block-buy."

"If you want to save the taxpayers' money, if you want to stabilize the defense industrial base in Hampton Roads, you want the Department of Defense to say we're going to build multiple ships or submarines at a time," said Old Dominion University Economics Professor Bob McNab. 

"It's very hard to buy one ship or submarine at a time, because Congress can always change their mind. And both sides knowing how many are going to be built is a good thing."

In 2018 the Navy said it would save as an estimated $4 billion with a similar block-buy for the third and fourth Ford-class aircraft carriers.

In all, the Navy plans to spend $128 billion for a total of 12 Columbia-class subs by 2042.

Under the teaming arrangement with Electric Boat, approximately one out every five of those dollars would come here to Hampton Roads.

RELATED: Navy faces big challenges keeping fleet in 'ship-shape,' reports say

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