9 April 2017
A Virginia-class submarine that encountered a problem during sea trials last month recently returned to sea and successfully completed its initial at-sea tests, Newport News Shipbuilding said.
The submarine Washington had encountered "a material issue" during sea trials in March that required a return to port, the Navy had said. The boat had already missed a September 2016 date and was scheduled to be commissioned March 25.
The problems were not related to the submarine's integrity or nuclear propulsion plant.
During its follow-up run at sea trials, the submarine and crew "performed exceptionally well," said Matt Needy, Newport News' vice president of submarines and fleet support, in a company news release.
The submarine submerged for the first time and ran at high speeds on the surface and underwater, the company said. It completed the trials April 3.
A second round of trials is required before the Navy accepts delivery of the submarine from Newport News.
The shipyard, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, builds Virginia-class submarines in a teaming arrangement with General Dynamics Electric Boat of Groton, Conn. Each yard builds components of the submarine, then take turns in final assembly and delivery to the Navy.
The two yards are exclusive builders of nuclear-powered submarines for the Navy.
The construction of the Washington began in September 2011. It marked the start of a two-submarine-per-year build rate for Newport News in the Virginia-class program.
The program is cited by the Navy as one of its most successful, both in terms of cost and schedule. Washington's late delivery will break a streak of ahead-of-schedule deliveries that began in 2008. Budget-wise, the Washington should be completed at or under the Navy's target cost.
The subs are popular with Navy commanders, who say it gives them an advantage over countries such as Russia and China. Costs and schedules have come down partly due to the Navy's practice of buying the boats in "blocks" — bulk purchases that allow the shipyards to plan ahead.