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INVESTIGATION INTO QUESTIONABLE COMPONENTS COMPLETED

I found this article in this morning’s issue of the Undersea Warfare News about the parts that caused the postponement of the original May 31st commissioning date.

North Dakota Attack Boat Investigation Complete 

Sam Grady, USNI, Aug 15

Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) has concluded an investigation into questionable third party components of its latest Virginia-class attack boat — North Dakota (SSN-784) — clearing the way for the submarine to commission in late October, NAVSEA told USNI News on Thursday.

“To date, all necessary inboard and outboard components have been inspected and all required repairs have been completed,” read a statement provided to USNI News.

NAVSEA inspected 58 components — mostly in the bow and stern sections — of the $2.6 billion attack boat and conducted an unspecified number of repairs, according to the statement.

“These components included stern planes and rudder rams, retractable bow plane cylinders, hydraulic accumulators, high pressure air charging manifolds, torpedo tube interlocks and shaft/link assemblies, weapons shipping and handling mechanisms, and other miscellaneous parts,” NAVSEA statement.

“The submarine was certified for sea trials and is tracking towards the Aug. 31 contractual delivery date.”

NAVSEA said other Block III Virginias would also be inspected. Neither the Navy nor Virginia-class prime contractor — General Dynamics Electric Boat —would identify the vendor to USNI News.

Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) — responsible for most construction of the bow and stern sections — referred comment on the program to NAVSEA and Electric Boat.

The commissioning delay and investigation are rare missteps in what is arguably the Navy’s best-run shipbuilding program in decades.

North Dakota is the first of the Block III boats. The revised design feature 40 percent of the bow retooled to accommodate a new water-backed Large Aperture Bow (LAB) sonar array and the addition of two Multiple All Up Round Canisters that can each hold six Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM).

The redesign was led by Electric Boat and constructed by Newport News as part of the teaming agreement between the two yards for the Virginia-class construction.

Despite the delay, North Dakota will most likely still deliver ahead of its 66-month construction schedule.

The final Block II boat— USS Minnesota (SSN-783) — delivered 11 months early.

NAVSEA’s full Thursday statement to USNI News follows:

The commissioning of PCU NORTH DAKOTA (SSN 784) was postponed from May to address material issues with vendor-assembled and delivered components.

To date, all necessary inboard and outboard components have been inspected and all required repairs have been completed.

There were a total of 58 components investigated aboard PCU NORTH DAKOTA (SSN 784).

These components included stern planes and rudder rams, retractable bow plane cylinders, hydraulic accumulators, high pressure air charging manifolds, torpedo tube interlocks and shaft/link assemblies, weapons shipping and handling mechanisms, and other miscellaneous parts.

The submarine was certified for sea trials and is tracking towards the August 31 contractual delivery date. The commissioning is scheduled for October 25. All other Block III submarines are being inspected and any issues found will be adjudicated.

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