| WASHINGTON, April 16
WASHINGTON, April 16 The U.S. Navy on Wednesday
said it would delay the commissioning of the North Dakota, a new
Virginia-class submarine that was due to enter active service on
May 31, to carry out more design work and resolve quality
problems with certain components.
The submarine, built jointly by General Dynamics Corp
and Huntington Ingalls Industries, is returning to
drydock for the additional work, according to the submarine's
Facebook site. It said no new commissioning date had been set.
Colleen O'Rourke, spokeswoman for Naval Sea Systems Command,
said the Navy decided to delay the commissioning because the
ship needed additional design and certification work on its
redesigned bow, and because of "material issues" with certain
vendor-assembled and delivered components.
"The Navy is committed to ensuring the safety of its crews
and ships. High quality standards for submarine components are
an important part of the overall effort to ensure safety,"
O'Rourke said. She did not provide details on the faulty parts.
It was not immediately clear who would pay for the
additional work, or how soon the ship would be commissioned.
O'Rourke said the lessons learned from work on the North
Dakota were already being applied to the other follow-on ships
in the next batch of submarines being built.
Bob Hamilton, spokesman for Electric Boat, the General
Dynamics unit that serves as the prime contractor for the
submarines, said his company still expected to deliver the ship
by the original deadline of Aug. 31.
Sources familiar with the submarine program said the Navy
was taking a second look at 63 different components, including
some used in the ship's stern, rudder and hydraulic systems.
Typically in weapons manufacturing, if quality problems are
found with one component, all other components made by the same
supplier are also reviewed carefully.
The Congressional Research Service estimates that each
Virginia-class submarine costs about $2.7 billion to build. The
first of the new class of submarines entered service in 2004.
The North Dakota is the first of eight ships in Block III of
the Virginia-class submarines, a new design that is about 40
percent different from the previous submarines.
That means the ship is essentially the first in a new class,
and the first ship often has problems associated with a new
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)