NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — U.S. Sen. Jack Reed announced Monday that the Navy has awarded a massive $22.2 billion contract to General Dynamics Corp.’s Electric Boat division to build nine new submarines, with a significant portion of the work to be done at the Quonset Business Park.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly called Reed on Monday to share the news.

The deal is the largest shipbuilding contract in Navy history, and illustrates why Electric Boat embarked last year on a 1.3-million-square-foot expansion of its Quonset facility, at a cost of nearly $800 million. The company currently has about 4,100 workers in Rhode Island, making it one of the state’s largest employers.

“This contract is a major win for Rhode Island that will bring a host of economic benefits to the state,” Reed, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement. “It means submarine production at Quonset stays on course and continues full speed ahead for the next decade and will lead to further jobs and investment in the state.”

The contract calls for EB and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. to deliver nine Virginia-class submarines between 2025 and 2029, with an option to add a tenth. Each sub will weigh about 10,200 tons and measure 460 feet long, according to Reed, who described the boats as “an unmatched tool for deterrence.”

Defense News reported last month that the Navy had originally planned to order 11 Virginia-class subs but has slowed the pace of production due to delays and labor shortages, to the frustration of some members of Congress. Reed reiterated Monday that he supports continuing to have two new subs built each year.

Democratic Congressman Jim Langevin, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, said eight of the new submarines will include the Virginia Payload Module, which contain four tubes capable of carrying 28 Tomahawk cruise missiles and which will be built at Quonset.

“The new contract backs our state’s workforce and, most importantly, promotes long-term stability for our submarine fleet, which will further enhance national security by ensuring we have the most capable submarines and naval technology available in the years to come,” Langevin said.

Ted Nesi ( is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook