A whistleblower has filed a False Claims Act in Federal Court alleging that the sound-dampening coating was improperly affixed causing the coating to “de-bond” and slip off the submarines while underway. According to the complaint, “since the inception of the program, Virginia-class submarines have been plagued with problems with their exterior hull coating system,” including an incident in 2007 on the USS Virginia, the first submarine of its class.The complaint asserts that the failure of the Special Hull Treatment on Virginia-class submarines squarely on Huntington Ingalls’ Newport News Shipbuilding facility: “The failure of the sound-absorbing material is a direct result of NNS’ failure to adhere to proper Navy contract specifications and a direct effort to conceal that lack of qualifications and certifications required by the Navy.”
Huntington Ingalls, America’s largest military shipbuilding company is alleged to have falsifying tests and certifications on stealth coatings of its submarines “that put American lives at risk,” according to a complaint filed in federal court last month.Huntington Ingalls Industries, which spun-off from Northrop Grumman in 2011, “knowingly and/or recklessly” filed falsified records with the Navy claiming it had correctly applied a coating, called a Special Hull Treatment, to Virginia-class attack submarines which would allow the vessels to elude enemy sonar, the Sept. 26 complaint alleges.
Instead, the complaint says Huntington Ingalls’ Newport News Shipbuilding facility in Virginia took shortcuts that allegedly “plagued” the class of submarines with problems, and then retaliated against the employee who spoke up about the issues. Huntington Ingalls, and Northrop Grumman, are being sued for damages in excess of $100 million for allegedly misleading the federal government on a defense contract to apply the sound-dampening coating to the submarines. The Navy’s Virginia-class attack submarines are manufactured as part of a joint effort by General Dynamics’ Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls.
The complaint goes on to note that the companies “induced the government to pay the defendants in-full for submarines with dangerous defects that put American lives at risk.”
The suit which is brought under the False Claims Act and rewards whistleblowers in successful cases where the government recoups damages due to fraud . It is being brought by Ari Lawrence on behalf of the U.S. Government. According to the complaint, Lawrence, a senior engineer at Huntington Ingalls who has worked there since 2001, has provided evidence of the alleged issues at the company’s Newport News Shipbuilding facility in Virginia.