© Reuters. FILE PHOTO:  A General Dynamics sign is shown at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in San Diego, California © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A General Dynamics sign is shown at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in San Diego, California

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - General Dynamics Corp (N:GD) was named lead contractor on a $22.2 billion U.S. Navy contract for the construction of nine Virginia-class submarines, the Pentagon said on Monday in announcing its largest-ever shipbuilding award.

General Dynamics Electric Boat Corp is the prime contractor and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc (N:HII) is a major subcontractor, the Pentagon said in a statement.

Eighteen Virginia-class submarines have already been delivered to the Navy. The first ship of the nine new orders will be delivered in 2024. The Navy plans to buy 40 Virginia-class submarines.

Construction of the submarines will be carried out at General Dynamics facilities in Connecticut and by Huntington Ingalls at its facilities in Virginia.

Executives from both companies said they have been ramping up hiring and investing in facilities in anticipation of the award.

Powered by small nuclear reactors, Virginia-class submarines can carry Mark 48 Advanced Capability torpedoes, unmanned underwater vehicles and Tomahawk land-attack missiles.

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