Curtiss-Wright to Support New Submarine Construction

by: Matthew Potter
March 8, 2011

Category: Business Line, logistics, production program | RSS 2.0

The U.S. Navy relies on General Dynamics (GD) to manufacture their nuclear submarine force. That company though then sub-contracts out for thousands of different systems and parts which rely on a network of different contractors and companies to build and supply. One of the largest sub-assemblies of the boats are their nuclear propulsion systems which for the next two Virginia class attack submarines will be made by Bechtel Plant Machinery which is part of Bechtel Corporation.

Nuclear plants for ships and submarines like all steam based systems require large amounts of pipes and valves which Bechtel is then ordering from Curtis-Wright Corp (CW). They recently signed a sub-contract with Bechtel that could be worth up to $66 million if all options are exercised and the Navy buys four more submarines. The initial order is for two of the class.

Each major system that the U.S. military and other countries buy has a massive trickle down and multiplier effect. Many different companies and contractors are involved in providing the parts, analysis and support that lead to the delivery of an actual aircraft, ship or armored vehicle. Due to the unique and specialized nature of some of these items such as the valves Curtis-Wright will supply there are only limited sources for some items.

The U.S. defense industrial base’s size and capabilities have been diminishing since the end of the Cold War in 1991. This is why the European defense contractors have penetrated the market since the build up for post-9/11 fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as they provided needed capability and competition. While there is an expected decrease in U.S. defense spending the nation must maintain some level of capacity in case there will be a need for a ramp up again which requires a certain level of investment in new systems and research and development.

Photo from U.S. Navy’s flickr photostream.

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