This is a very busy time during submarine construction. The systems are all installed and rigorous testing is being conducted prior to getting underway for sea trials. Periodically required repairs will impact the ship’s schedule.
“The Navy has determined that the delivery of PCU WASHINGTON (SSN 787) will be delayed beyond the contract delivery date, thus delaying the submarine's March 25, 2017 commissioning ceremony in Norfolk, VA. This delay is based on a recently identified material issue with an access hatch which requires repair of the sealing surface prior to the submarine undergoing initial sea trials.
Delaying delivery and commissioning will allow the shipbuilder sufficient time to make the necessary repairs and certify the submarine for delivery. This repair will ensure the submarine meets the exacting construction and safety standards required before it enters service. The Navy will work with the Commissioning Committee and Ship's Sponsor to establish a new date for the event.
Even with this delay, the ship is still expected to deliver within budget. The Navy will work to ensure that the date of final delivery to the Fleet after completion of Post Shakedown Availability (PSA) remains unchanged. Maintaining the final delivery date following PSA, in spite of the delay to delivery from the initial construction contract, ensures there is no impact to implementation of WASHINGTON as a deployable asset.
The Navy has benefited from an aggressive reduction in contracted construction spans over the history of the class. From an 84 month span for the first four Block I ships (VIRGINIA, TEXAS, HAWAII, and NORTH CAROLINA), the Navy and shipbuilders have successively reduced spans to 78, 74, and now 66 months on all Block III submarines. However, this beneficial reduction in the construction span, has greatly reduced the ability to absorb material failures or construction errors within the schedule."