The Virginia-class attack submarine Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) North Dakota (SSN-784) is rolled out of an indoor shipyard facility at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, Conn. North Dakota is scheduled to be christened Nov. 2. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of General Dynamics/Released)

WASHINGTON — The Navy to date has invested $500 million into working with the Texas-based non-profit BlueForge Alliance to strengthen the submarine industrial base — and that investment will likely continue to rise, the service official leading the effort says.

“We have $605 million of supplier development [funding] in the [fiscal year 2024] national security supplemental and… I expect to engage those projects via BlueForge,” Matt Sermon, executive director of the program executive office for strategic submarines, told reporters during a June 6 roundtable at Naval Sea Systems Command.

The non-profit organization, born in November 2022 from two engineers formerly working at Texas A&M University, has rapidly made a name for itself in recent months as its worked with the US Navy and General Dynamics Electric Boat to help the service strengthen the submarine industrial base, largely in preparation for the strategic security pact dubbed AUKUS.

For the general public, that work has manifested as the website, which aims to convey the need the Navy has — 100,000 new workers over 10 years — for more people to enter the workforce. BlueForge has run billboards and advertisements at high profile events, including the first day of the Major League Baseball season, NASCAR races, and the Oscars.

A request for comment or an interview with BlueForge Alliance was not returned by press time.

Sermon, who was one of the first Navy officials to begin publicly talking about BlueForge Alliance last November during an annual trade show, said the service was first approached by the organization’s founders — Kiley Wren and Rob Gorham — as a result of working with Texas A&M.

The soon-to-be founders of BlueForge pitched Electric Boat and the Navy on supplier and workforce development pilot programs, which Electric Boat subsequently approved and made a sole-source determination that BlueForge would execute the program.

“They did very well at it. They showed that they added capacity to that group, the shipbuilders,” Sermon added. “That’s how this got started.”

Sermon said since then BlueForge’s work has expanded to leading an additive manufacturing consortium across several universities as well as working with certain original equipment manufacturers and additive manufacturing companies to “tie up that whole entire group from industry and academia into an organization that’s focused on the material maturity that we need to drive” capacity.