Posted by John McHaleGROTON, Conn., 30 April 2011. The 14th Virginia-class submarine, SSN-787, will be built by General Dynamics Electric Boat, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics, under a $1.2 billion contract with the U.S. Navy. The announcement starts the process of producing two submarines per year on the Virginia-class program.The release of the funding allows procurement of long lead-time components that will support the planned official construction start later this year on the as-yet-unnamed submarine at Electric Boat and its teammate, Huntington Ingalls Industries in Newport News, Va."Today represents the culmination of an extraordinary effort by the Virginia-class team," says John D. Holmander, Electric Boat's vice president for the Virginia Program. "From the engineers and designers who reduced the cost of the Virginia Class, to the shipbuilders who have delivered the submarines ahead of schedule and under budget, to the vendors who worked with us on cost-containment strategies, and of course the Navy, which has managed the program now recognized as a model for Pentagon procurement, this has truly been a collective effort."The shipbuilding team's attention remains focused on capturing additional efficiencies wherever possible, Holmander says"Reducing the cost of Virginia Class ships to the point where the Navy can afford to acquire two ships per year has demanded an intense process of continuous improvement," Holmander said. "Our task now is to ensure that we demonstrate additional improvement on each ship so taxpayers get the best possible return on the nation’s investment in submarines."The Virginia class is the first U.S. Navy warship designed from the keel up for the full range of mission requirements in the post-Cold War era. Optimized for maximum technological and operational flexibility, these submarines play a key role in the natio''s defense with their stealth, firepower, and endurance.Virginia-class submarines displace 7,800 tons, with a hull length of 377 feet and a diameter of 34 feet. They are capable of speeds in excess of 25 knots and can dive to a depth greater than 800 feet, while carrying Mark 48 advanced capability torpedoes, Tomahawk land attack missiles and unmanned underwater vehicles. Electric Boat last received funds for two submarines in 1991, when the Navy ordered the USS Connecticut (SSN 22) and USS Louisiana (SSBN 743), the final Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine.