Defense contractor General Atomics, which has a sprawling facility in the Tupelo Lee Industrial Park South, will build two large Bearing Support Structures for the U.S. Navy’s new multi-billion-dollar Columbia Class submarines.

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) was awarded the contract from Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division (NSWCCD) for an undisclosed amount.

The BSS structures will be built in Tupelo.

“This contract leverages our extensive manufacturing competencies to ensure these critical structures are delivered to NSWCCD as the first new Columbia Class submarine begins construction in October 2020,” said Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS. “We have a proven track record in the manufacture of First-Time Quality components and safety-critical systems for undersea and surface vessels. This award further positions GA-EMS as a “go-to” resource for shipyards to get complex components into production to meet hard and fast schedule deadlines.”

The Navy intends to build 12 Columbia Class submarines over the next 20 years.

The Columbia-class submarine is an upcoming class of nuclear submarines designed to replace the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines. The first submarine is scheduled to enter service in 2031.

The design and technology development of the Columbia-class is projected to cost $4.2 billion, although technology and components from the Ohio and Virginia classes are to be included where possible, to save money. The cost to build Columbia, the lead boat of the class, will be an estimated $6.2 billion.

General Atomics opened its Lee County facility in 2005, and has built and tested components for the Electromagnetic Launch System, or EMALS, that will be used by the Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers.

GA has built and tested components for EMALS at its facility there, where earlier this year it announced for the 11th time since opening in 2005 – and the fourth time since 2013 – that it is expanding: a $20 million investment that added 48 jobs, as well as a 128,000-square-foot addition.

“We have spent the last decade developing and delivering first-of-kind technologies, such as Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch Systems and Advanced Arresting Gear, to support the next generation fleet,” stated Rolf Ziesing, vice president of Programs. “We adhere to industry-leading quality standards and manufacturing processes to ensure we deliver products in spec and correct the first time. And we continually expand our skill sets and manufacturing capabilities to meet the technological challenges facing the Navy’s modernization efforts.”