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Congressman Asks Pentagon For More Involvement in Funding Ohio Replacement Submarine

An undated artist's rendering of the Ohio Replacement. Naval Sea Systems Command Image

An undated artist’s rendering of the Ohio Replacement. Naval Sea Systems Command Image

A House Armed Services Committee member said lawmakers are already working to properly fund the upcoming Ohio Replacement Program (ORP) ballistic missile submarine but have not received sufficient feedback from the Pentagon.

During a HASC hearing Thursday on nuclear deterrence, seapower and projection forces subcommittee ranking member Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) asked deputy defense secretary Bob Work to address the National Sea Based Deterrence Fund, which the committee set up last year and activated and expanded this year while writing the defense authorization bill.

After pleas from the Navy to help address the upcoming ORP bill, which would wreck other ship programs if funded through the normal shipbuilding and conversion account, Courtney said the committee created NSBDF and tried “empowering the Navy though incremental purchasing authority, multiyear purchasing authority to really give them the tools to deal with this very challenging cost issue.”

But Courtney lamented the lack of substantive dialogue between the House and the Pentagon since then.

“Your comments are, we need to think about this,” the congressman said during the hearing.
“We’re past that, very frankly. We’re ready to act. And what I’m asking you is, if you don’t like the Sea Based Deterrence Fund, fine, but come back to us with something. We just get the impression that the budget planners at the Pentagon and in the administration are just spectators here in terms of us trying to come up with a fix to this that will avoid all of the negative fallout which, again, you described very powerfully here this morning.”

Courtney said he wanted to hear from Work “whether at some point you guys are prepared to embrace it and help us advance” the proposed solution.

Work replied that “in the past Congress has added money for strategic modernization during periods of these times of starting to recapitalize, and we hope that is going to happen again.”

Earlier in the hearing, Work said that in the 1960s and 1980s the Pentagon faced major modernization needs for its nuclear systems and was given additional funding to do so rather than pulling from the rest of its budget.

Given the spending limits imposed by the Budget Control Act, congressmen haven’t been able to promise higher Navy or Defense Department toplines, so they created the NSBDF so that extra money could be added into the fund when available via reprogramming requests – not the solution Work asked for, but the best some lawmakers feel they can offer given the circumstances.

Courtney was not satisfied with Work’s answer and replied that “I hope at some point the powers that be are going to spit it out here in terms of whether or not they’re willing to use this fund.”

“We’re ready, and in fact we’re moving forward, and we hope that the administration’s going to help us solve this problem,” he concluded.

A congressional staffer clarified after the hearing that the administration’s only feedback on the NSBDF has been broad statements of appreciation, but no specific comments on whether Congress’s current actions go far enough or if additional authorities are needed so the Navy can design and build ORP effectively and efficiently. If the Navy needs more tools, they need to ask before the HASC and its Senate counterpart finalize the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2016 in the coming weeks.

  • originalone

    Considering the enormous costs involved today & tomorrow to build all these War related toys, for lack of a better term, isn’t it about time the elected ones instituted a “WAR TAX”, especially on the too big to pay taxes set? Putting the burden on the backs of the working citizens and their future generations, insures the short comings down the road. Perhaps the “Ohio Class” subs could be named G.E., the “Aircraft Carriers” after Goldman Sacks, with them picking up the total costs and overruns to boot. I’m sure that the other “Welfare Queens” who eat out of the public through, as in the “Fortune 500”, would have enough finances to fund the whole enchilada. After all, they do make their money-at least a large portion of-here in the U.S., so they should pay for the service of having the U.S.Military covering their backside.

    • sferrin

      “Toys”? Good god, what are you, twelve? National defense isn’t just a jobs program.

      • redgriffin

        He said “…for lack of a better term….” what would you have called it weapons systems. Undo the sequester and let us go get on with our lives this false idea austerity.

        • Navyjag907

          I would have called them strategic nuclear weapons platforms or something like that, i.e. something serious. Are you, in fact, just twelve or trying to impress the girl in your freshman college class with your worldliness?

          • redgriffin

            No I’m a educated person who was taught manners by my parents by the way you could learn some manners too.

          • Navyjag907

            My apologies. My post was directed at “original alone,” not you. I should have been more careful.

  • bobbymike34

    All Triad/nuclear modernization should be out of a new National Deterrent Fund and include LRS-B, LRSO & the GBSD along with a new family of tactical and strategic warheads married to hyper-accurate AMaRVs.