NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Senator Jack Reed and Rep. Jim Langevin lauded the skills, craftsmanship and dedication of the General Dynamics Electric Boat shipbuilding team Friday — applauding their contributions to national security.

Electric Boat, which is a division of General Dynamics Corporation, manufactures Virginia-class submarines. The company currently has about 4,100 workers in Rhode Island, making it one of the state’s largest employers.

Earlier in the month, Reed announced that the Navy has awarded a massive $22.2 billion contract to General Dynamics’ Electric Boat division to build nine new submarines. The contract will ensure additional work for laborers and bring millions of dollars in business to small suppliers across the state and region.

“I am committed to doing everything I can to ensure we can attract jobs and business to the state,” Reed said.

The deal, according to Reed, is the largest shipbuilding contract in Navy history and will help strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities. He said it is cost-effective for taxpayers and ensures a stable workload at Electric Boat’s shipyard in Quonset Point for many years to come.

The contract means construction on Virginia-class subs ships will begin this year at Quonset Point, with deliveries scheduled from 2025 through 2029.

“A robust submarine fleet is vital to our current and future national security, and the continued construction of two Virginia-class subs per year will prevent the loss of fast attack capabilities,” Reed said.

Electric Boat and its partners have already delivered 18 Block V submarines to the Navy and all 10 Block IV submarines are currently under construction, according to Reed.

The current Block IV submarines measure about 377 feet long, with a diameter of 34 feet. They are capable of traveling at submerged speeds of 25 knots and diving more than 800 feet below the surface. The ships can remain submerged for weeks or months, with reactors capable of producing the crew’s water and oxygen.

The new Block V submarines will be equipped with advanced capabilities — including the Virginia Payload Module — will weigh about 10,200 tons, and have a length of 460 feet.

“The new Virginia Payload Module represents a leap forward in capability for our submariners,” Langevin said in a statement. “I am incredibly proud that the VPMs will be built by Rhode Islanders and that my work on the Armed Services Committee has ensured that eight of the nine vessels in the Block V contract will have this new technology.”

Last year, Reed said Electric Boat broke ground on a 1-million-square-foot, $800-million multi-year expansion of its manufacturing facilities at Quonset Point, where workers manufacture and outfit both future Virginia and Columbia class submarines.

Reed and Langevin worked for years to help fund improvements in and around the Quonset Business Park to help attract and retain business in the area.

Photos below courtesy of General Dynamics Electric Boat: