US Navy Gets Bearing Support Structure for Columbia-Class Submarine

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems has announced the delivery of the first of two Bearing Support Structures (BSS) for the US Navy’s first Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine.

The US is currently developing the submarine to replace its current force of 14 Ohio Class nuclear vessels, which will reach its end of service in the late 2020s. 

“For a project involving the size and complexity of a BSS, we brought the technical strength of our manufacturing engineering, machining, welding, and quality expertise together to successfully execute the deliverable on spec and on time,” General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems President Scott Forney said in a statement

The company was awarded a contract by the US Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division in 2019 to produce and deliver two BSSs for the vessels. It is manufacturing the two BSSs at its facilities in Tupelo, Mississippi. 

In September last year, General Atomics received the order for the second BSS, which will be delivered at the end of next year.

Columbia Class Ballistic Missile Submarine

The Columbia Class ballistic missile submarine program consists of 12 submarines to meet the requirements for the navy over the next 20 years.

Designed for a service life of 42 years, the navy awarded the contract to General Dynamics Electric Boat to construct the submarines in 2017. The first is scheduled to enter service in 2027.

Like its predecessor the Ohio-class, the Columbia-class vessels will be capable of carrying nuclear Trident II intercontinental ballistic missiles. However, the new submarine will feature several advancements over the previous class. 

The ship will also incorporate several features built into the navy’s latest Virginia-class submarines.

Some of these features include “fly-by-wire” navigational systems, which allow more accurate monitoring of speed and depth, the use of a fiber-optic cable, and other sophisticated communications systems.

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