Aug. 12 (UPI) -- General Dynamics' Electric Boat Division was awarded a $15.2 million contract to upgrade the Navy submarine USS Washington, the Defense Department announced.
The contract, announced Friday, charges General Dynamics with the planning, material procurement and repair work on the submarine, to be completed by December 2019.
Last month the USS Washington moved from its home port of Naval Station Norfolk, Va., to Groton, Conn., for the upgrades. The submarine, commissioned in Virginia in October 2017, is a nuclear-powered attack vessel in the Virginia class.
The Navy is building over a dozen next-generation submarines in that class to replace Los Angeles-class vessels as they are retired. The improvements to the USS Washington, the 14th Virginia-class vessel to be built and the fourth in the Block III series, are meant to keep the submarine current, and borrow technology from the larger Navy's Ohio-class fleet.
Virginia-class submarines include a fly-by-wire ship control system offering improved shallow-water ship handling. The class has special features to support Special Operations Forces, including a reconfigurable torpedo room which can accommodate a large number of personnel and their equipment for prolonged deployments and future off-board payloads. Traditional periscopes are replaced by two photonics masts that host visible and infrared digital cameras atop telescoping arms.
The submarines also employ modular construction, open architecture, and commercial off-the-shelf components to remain current and available for rapid introduction of new systems and payloads.