Report to Congress on Columbia-class Submarine Program

January 23, 2018 10:45 AM

The following is the Jan. 12, 2018 Congressional Research Service report, Navy Columbia Class (Ohio Replacement) Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN-826) Program: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the Report:

The Columbia (SSBN-826) class program, previously known as the Ohio replacement program
(ORP) or SSBN(X) program, is a program to design and build a new class of 12 ballistic missile
submarines (SSBNs) to replace the Navy’s current force of 14 Ohio-class SSBNs. The Navy has
identified the Columbia-class program as the Navy’s top priority program. The Navy wants to
procure the first Columbia-class boat in FY2021. The Navy’s proposed FY2018 budget requests
$842.9 million in advance procurement (AP) funding and $1,041.7 million in research and
development funding for the program.

The Navy as of January 2017 estimates the procurement cost of the lead ship in the class at
$8.2 billion in constant 2017 dollars, not including several billion dollars in additional cost for
plans for the class, and the average unit procurement cost of ships 2 through 12 in the program at
$6.5 billion each in constant FY2017 dollars. A March 2017 GAO report assessing selected major
Department of Defense (DOD) weapon acquisition programs stated that the estimated total
acquisition cost of the Columbia-class program is $100,221.9 million (about $100.2 billion) in
constant FY2017 dollars, including $12,648.1 million (about $12.6 billion) in research and
development costs and $87,426.5 million (about $87.4 billion) in procurement costs. Observers
are concerned about the impact the Columbia-class program will have on the Navy’s ability to
fund the procurement of other types of ships at desired rates in the 2020s and early 2030s.
Issues for Congress for the Columbia-class program for FY2018 include the following:

  • whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s FY2018 funding requests for
    the program;
  • the impact of using a CR to fund Department of Defense (DOD) operations for
    the first few months of FY2018 on the execution of FY2018 funding for the
    Columbia-class program;
  • cost, schedule, and technical risk in the Columbia-class program; and
  • the prospective affordability of the Columbia-class program and its potential
    impact on funding available for other Navy programs.


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