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Navy Issues Order to Babcock & Wilcox Company for Nuclear Power Components

Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) announced that the U.S. Navy executed an option on a contract they were awarded in 2010 for nuclear reactors and fuel for Navy aircraft carriers and submarines. The order was from the FY12 budget and has a value of $600 million. The contract if all options are exercised is worth about $2 billion.

The Nuclear Operations Group of B&W supports not only propulsion plants for the Navy’s ships and submarines but also R&D and component production. It also sells to the civilian nuclear power industry as well as conventional power plants.

B&W has been designing, manufacturing and installing boilers and steam plants for use in power generation and ship propulsion since the middle of the 1800’s. In 2008 it acquired Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc. as a subsidiary to expand its products into nuclear fuel.

The U.S. Navy now operates only aircraft carriers powered by reactors as well as a large submarine fleet. These require periodic refueling. The U.S. is also planning to continue to construct several new aircraft carriers and submarines over the next ten years which will also require power plants.

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Navy to Buy Nuclear Fuel from Babcox and Wilcox Subsidiary

The U.S. Navy is one of the few world powers to use nuclear fuel for their submarines and aircraft carriers. They have operated ships with this type of power plant for over fifty years now. One of the benefits of such power plants is that they do not need to be refueled very often but they still require replacement of their nuclear cores and overhaul every several years. Babcox and Wilcox (BWC) is a major engineering firm dealing with the nuclear power industry as well as supporting the Navy.

One of its subsidiaries, Nuclear Fuel Services (NFS), based out of Tennessee just won a contract from the Navy to provide fuel for its nuclear powered vessels. The contract is worth almost $80 million.

Because of the limited market for the type of nuclear material needed NFS operates a facility that produces the fuel under U.S. government oversight.

The U.S. still needs to manufacture material to support its fleet of nuclear powered warships, power plants and nuclear warheads. The nation has made serious reductions in the number of reactor powered ships and weapons but still must maintain an infrastructure to support its existing systems.

B&W is one of the several contractors vital to that infrastructure and last month was awarded a contract worth about $2 billion to provide components over the next ten years for naval reactors.

Photo from micahaelwm25 flickr photostream.

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