Home » Budget Industry » Congress Faces Last Chance to Add 2 Virginia-Class Attack Subs to Next Block Buy


Congress Faces Last Chance to Add 2 Virginia-Class Attack Subs to Next Block Buy

Indiana (SSN-789) was delivered to the U.S. Navy by Newport News Shipbuilding on June 25, 2018. Pictured during sea trials in May, the newest Virginia-class submarine will be commissioned later this year. HII Photo

As some lawmakers hope to leverage industrial base capacity and buy an additional two attack submarines in the coming years, an amendment set for a vote on Thursday will determine if the Navy gets the up-front funding it would need for those additional submarine purchases.

The Navy had planned to continue its two-a-year rate of SSN procurement, even as the submarine industrial base faces great pressure from the addition of the Virginia Payload Module on the SSNs and the 2021 official start of the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine construction. But despite that increased workload, further studies have identified 2022 and 2023 as possible years for the Navy to buy a third submarine, to help address the dwindling number of attack boats in the fleet at a time when demand for their presence across the globe is rising.

The ability to buy the boats in 2022 and 2023 would be predicated on the Navy having advance procurement funding in 2019 for long-lead materials and for up-front multi-submarine purchases that help keep costs down. The House Armed Services Committee included the authority to spend this money in its Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, but the House Appropriations Committee did not include the funding in its defense spending bill. Without the money being appropriated, the Navy could not pay for the advance procurement items that would pave the way for buying the two extra boats in the coming years.

HASC seapower and projection forces subcommittee chairman Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) and ranking member Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) proposed an amendment to the spending bill that would trim $1 billion from other accounts and put it into Virginia-class advance procurement.

“The Navy has provided guidance to the House Armed Services Committee that three years of advance procurement funding, rather than the usual two years, in the amount requested is necessary to build these two additional submarines without disrupting the current industrial base. These funds would be used to purchase the most critical, long lead-time components to reduce manufacturing and construction risk. The Navy has reported to Congress ‘an increase in the build rate for [Virginia-class submarines] in FY22 and FY23 is viable without significant disruption to the current plan of record and is the most suitable ramp up for the shipbuilders, their suppliers, and the [nuclear industrial base],’” according to a description of the amendment provided by Courtney’s office.

According to a handful of retired Navy admirals, though, buying those two submarines isn’t just viable, it is vital.

“Our undersea dominance will be challenged aggressively and simultaneously in several geographic regions. Whoever controls the undersea domain and sea lanes vital to us and our allies will have the upper hand in crisis and conflict – history bears that out and our time is no different. Investments in capabilities (sensors, communications, weapons and quiet propulsion, etc.) will matter greatly but submarine capacity, the number of submarines we have to dominate in dispersed geographic areas, is vital. In confronting peer adversaries at sea we must acknowledge and anticipate high-end, complex maritime warfare will result in some loss of capital assets which cannot be replaced quickly. Our submarines, because of their lethality, will be aggressively hunted and we must anticipate losses in that force,” retired Adm. Gary Roughead, who served as chief of naval operations from 2007 to 2011, wrote in a letter of support for the Wittman-Courtney amendment.
“The Navy’s recent Force Structure Assessment (FSA) validates the need for 66 attack submarines (I believe that number should be 72) yet we are on a path to 41 in 2029. The House 2019 NDAA recognizes this shortfall and thoughtfully and prudently seeks to enable increasing the Virginia Class submarine build rate to three ships per year in 2022 and 2023 by authorizing expenditures to that end.

Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Cheyenne (SSN-773), Republic of Korea Chang Bogo-class submarine ROKS Lee Eokgi (SS-071) and Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine’s USS Tucson (SSN-770) and USS Santa Fe (SSN-763) transit in close formation on July 28, 2016, US Navy Photo

“Our peer adversaries are investing in research, technology and capacity. This is not what we think they will do, it is what they are doing. Our submarines and the industrial base that produces them are superior but we will need more of them and it in the coming years. We must continue to maintain our dominance and I urge your committee and your colleagues in the Senate and those on the House and Senate Appropriation Committees to definitively provide for at least three submarines in fiscal years 2022 and 2023,” Roughead continued.
“The gap in submarine capacity between the U.S. and our peer competitors is growing to our disadvantage. Proactive investments must be made now to arrest that growing disparity in submarine force structure and avoid the consequences of being, for the first time in decades, at a disadvantage under the sea.”

Retired Adm. Robert Natter, a surface warfare officer who served as commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command and commander of U.S. 7th Fleet, wrote about the importance of submarines in Pacific operations.

“Authorizing additional dollars for increased SSN production to reach a three-per-year build rate addresses our national security disadvantage while reducing the unit cost of these valuable assets. As you and your Committees work with the Appropriators I encourage all your fellow members to embrace and support the build plan called for in the 2019 House NDAA with its increased build rate for our SSN fleet,” he wrote.
“In my view, if there is sufficient funding for only one more weapon or ship system, that ship should be an SSN. This is due to its inherent survivability, flexibility (anywhere on the globe) and effectiveness against the highest end threats.”

Retired Adm. Jonathan Greenert, who served as chief of naval operations from 2011 to 2015, wrote in his own letter that during his 40 years in the Navy “our Navy ‘owned’ the undersea domain. Navy’s superiority in the undersea domain has been unchallenged, predominantly due to the excellence of the submarine force. This is no longer assured. Real threats are emerging- fast,” he wrote.
“Navy’s recent Force Structure Assessment, embraced by the Executive and Legislative Branches, validates a need for 66 submarines. The need is real and urgent. However, without near term additional legislative action our fleet is on track to reach 41 attack submarines by 2029. … Authorizing additional resources for increased SSN production, specifically preserving the option to use available industrial capacity in 2022 and 2023 to reach a three-per-year build rate, is exactly the kind of thoughtful and tangible legislative action, and messaging, we need.”

Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Key West (SSN 722), the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104), and the Royal Thai Navy frigate HTMS Naresuan (FFG 421) and the corvette HTMS Long Lom (FS 533) conduct a transit exercise as part of Exercise Guardian Sea 2017. US Navy photo.

Finally, retired Vice Adm. Michael Connor, who commanded U.S. submarine forces from 2012 to 2015, wrote that during his time in command “I struggled to pace the growing undersea needs of combatant commanders around the world. Many high priority missions can only be accomplished by submarines because peer competitors improved their anti-access technology and long-range strike capability. Submarine demand continues to grow. The most recent force structure assessment that increased the attack submarine requirement from 48 to 66. Without additional action, our undersea fleet will drop to 41 attack submarines in 2029. This reduced fleet size will leave our civilian leaders and military commanders without the tools they need to keep ahead of changing threats and challenges around the globe. Mitigating this decline in the undersea fleet should be a top priority for the Navy, the Congress, and our nation.”

“As Congress continues its work on the defense authorization and funding measures in the weeks ahead, I would urge your colleagues to support the plan you have laid out in the 2019 NDAA passed by the House,” Connor continued.
“At a time when our nation’s leading edge in the undersea domain is being challenged by competitors around the world, this is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss.”

Newport News shipbuilders recently reached a significant construction milestone at the Joint Manufacturing and Assembly Facility, installing a 400-metric ton caisson that will revolutionize the way submarines are constructed. HII photo.

The House and Senate armed services committees have both passed their bills and must work out the differences. The Senate Armed Services Committee bill does not specifically add in the advance procurement funding but rather allows “$250 million to support either economic order quantity procurement for future subs or initiatives to expand the submarine industrial base,” USNI News previously reported.

The Senate Appropriations Committee also includes the $250-million industrial base support initiative, rather than the $1 billion in advance procurement funding the HASC and Navy say they need. So, getting the House Appropriations Committee onboard during the House floor debate is the last chance to keep alive the debate about the AP funding and the Navy’s chance to be able to buy an 11th and 12th attack submarine between 2019 and 2023.

The Navy will sign a new block buy contract in 2019 for either 10 or 12 subs, depending on the outcome of the congressional action.

  • Curtis Conway

    Need more submarines. Moving to three SSNs/yr for the targeted years is an absolute must. More submarines at less cost by adopting an AIP Conventional Submarine Program would be a faster way to grow the fleet. Four to six conventional submarines would grow the fleet faster.

    Perhaps Congress can change the three (3) LCS the US Navy did not want into advance procurement funding for FFG(X).

    • DaSaint

      Agree.

      But we need crews for these new vessels. Retention is down.

      • PolicyWonk

        I’ve advocated for bringing back the draft: requiring either 2 years of service in the military, or 3 years national service for objectors, etc.

        No one seems to have the stomach for it…

        • DaSaint

          I would support it. Especially if it offers a 2 or 4 year college scolarship depending on years served.

        • Duane

          Seriously? Draftees manning submarines?

          Did it ever occur to you that there is a very good reason we have always had a volunteers only manning policy for submarines?

          I served on a SSN in the years when the draft was just ending. The crew quality on skimmers was pretty bad when the draft was still in effect. Even though the Navy did not directly draft sailors in those days, a large proportion of Navy enlistments were motivated by draft notices, those guys who did not want to go to VN and get shot at.

        • Rocco

          Agreed!!

      • Curtis Conway

        Obviously, the solution to the retention problem is to build . . . . more LCS ; )P

        • DaSaint

          ROFL!

          • Secundius

            Just in case you’re interested, there’s and American/Israeli company called “StemRad” which is producing an “EM” Protective Belt (i.e. specifically X-Rays) for Both the US and Israeli Military. StemRad is located in Tel Aviv, Israel…

    • NavySubNuke

      “adopting an AIP Conventional Submarine Program would be a faster way to grow the fleet. Four to six conventional submarines would grow the fleet faster”
      Not a chance. First of all – we really wouldn’t save much money. Second of all we couldn’t even have a design done in time. Third of all, all we would be doing is adding more tail to the submarine force without any teeth. AIP conventional subs aren’t useful for any of the things we actually use our submarines for. To maintain the same presence as an SSN you need, at best, 4 AIP SSKs and that is if you forward base them in Japan. If we have to base them in Guam, Hawaii, or (God forbid) CONUS they are completely useless.
      Look at what Australia is doing for their new SSK:
      2014-2015 – capabilities defined and competition started
      2016 – competition winner announced, initial contract awarded
      2017/2018: concept design
      2018-2021 preliminary design phase
      2021-2024 detailed design
      2022 start of construction (FYI this is a major red flag since they won’t have finished detailed design — this is going to cost some serious rework money!!)
      2030 first sub is scheduled for completion
      2030 – 2033 operational testing and evaluation
      2033 First sub enters service
      Projected cost for 12 submarines – ~36B USD (~50B Australian Dollars)
      The Australian SSK is actually the closest model to what a US SSK would need to look like to be of any value. But if it doesn’t arrive until the 2030s and still costs over a billion each there really is no point.

      • Curtis Conway

        Good cogent argument. However, there are specific AORs where a local stationed presence that can fare just a little farther out, makes a lot of sense. The SSK will NEVER do what an SSN does, in the way an SSK does it. It is a wholly different mindset of submarine employment, and I fully understand why an American Submariner would think “AIP conventional subs aren’t useful for any of the things we actually use our submarines for” because you are thinking in Corvette terms, when we are using a small to medium sized truck to work locally, and only on the continental shelf, where SSNs (particularly in some areas during specific operations) do not do so well. Free those SSN units up for real Blue Water Work which is their forte.

        The new 3D manufacturing tools will be helping the Australian development, and manufacturing out as well. Perhaps we could send some of our ‘best and brightest’ to assist in that effort to help keep them on track (unless they are of the current Liberal Elite mindset of obstructionism). No room for that. Mission focused and accomplishment driven. Australia is one of our closest Allies, and the primary one Down Under. Invest in them.

        • Duane

          I rarely agree with NSN, but he is completely right in this argument.

          For one thing, the people who keep beating the drum for non-nuke submarines are non-sub sailors.

          To paraphrase Winston Churchhill, nothing quite concentrates the mind like being in a submerged submarine under attack that is snail slow, can’t dive deep to get under a thermal layer, and must come up for air eventually. Slow speed, short endurance, and shallow submergence depths are the achilles heels of all non-nuke boats.

          For another thing, American SSNs are particularly good at hunting and killing other submarines. Who would want to be crew on a boat that is not particularly good at that line of work?

          Not me, who served on a particularly good hunter killer 637 class SSN in the peak Cold War years, where we routinely penetrated unfriendly waters and got real close, though not friendly, with Soviet boats. I imagine nobody who has ever qualified on an American SSN would ever volunteer for duty on a boat that is considered torpedo fodder for an SSN.

          • Curtis Conway

            AIP as apposed to Diesel Electric mitigates that by a couple of weeks. Just a thought.

          • Rocco

            You have no idea what your talking about!! Modern SSK subs can stay submerged for quite a long time & they are quieter than nukes to begin with & not Slow!!

        • NavySubNuke

          I’ve operated at sea on-board foreign SSKs as the exercise liaison so I am quite familiar with both their strengths and weaknesses and not just applying a nuke mindset to this.
          The money spent buying, equipping, and maintaining SSKs is better spent on SSNs that can actually go to sea and accomplish their mission.
          SSKs in the US Navy would just be the submarine equivalent of the LCS. They look great on paper and work well as a concept but at the end of the day they don’t provide any benefits and instead just soak up resources that would be better spent elsewhere.
          As to Australia – they are already working with the French. The French are having to heavily modify their existing SSK to meet Australia’s specific needs. The US is also helping Australia directly as well – as we helped the UK to rescue the Astute program and we continue to provide assistance to the UK successor.

          • Curtis Conway

            Then a comprehensive review of SSN mission sets in the Littorals, particularly is shallow cold waters, is in order.

          • NavySubNuke

            Why?

  • Ed L

    Time to move ship building production into war footing The Russians and Chinese have been building like crazy for over a decade. While America has reduced ship building to next to nothing with billions spent on ships that don’t go anywhere

    • Curtis Conway

      Amen. The United States Navy needs 50+ multi-warfare FFG(X).

      • Bubblehead

        Assuming the FFGX is not a glorified LCS. In which case, we are all screwed.

        • PolicyWonk

          Agreed. I’m not optimistic, given what used to be called PEO LCS is now PEO UCS (via the magic of marketing!), and their historic love for doubling/tripling down on monumentally bad decisions.

          I hope to be (pleasantly) surprised.

          • Duane

            Yeah, because we all know that the Navy is getting away from all that silly unmanned tech stuff that just happens to have been developed largely on the LCS platform.

            NOT!!!

            Apparently you do not realize how ridiculous you sound with statements like yours.

        • Duane

          Not screwed. But you and a handful of commenters are very likely to be very disappointed.

      • PolicyWonk

        Concur.

        Note that the United States Navy still needs a littoral combat platform as well, despite the $36B blown on those blatant corporate welfare programs. The PCs are doing their job, and doing it well in the Persian Gulf, but they’re wearing out, while both LCS classes remain stateside, delivering value to stockholders at LockMart/Austal (instead to the taxpayers, or US national security).

        The real concern, is what PEO UCS is going to do w/r/t FFG(X), given their inglorious history of less-than-inadequate performance.

        • Curtis Conway

          There is some value to what you say. However, if every LCS was replaced by an FFG(X) how much further down the road would we be. The CSG commanders, and Geographic Combat Commanders would be much more happy. Their desires, requirements, and consideration have been conspicuously lacking from the equation while politicians got re-elected on funds financed by industrialist in their regions, and no one was served save those who had jobs. Somebody got rich and our security is lacking. What’s the matter with this equatiton?

          • PolicyWonk

            The CSG commanders would indeed be a lot happier if we had a fleet of truly capable FFG(X)’s, and their priorities are rightly with the protection of their battle fleet. Given what LCS is, and/or became, we would be better off with a fleet of useful frigates – no contest.

            However, that doesn’t negate the fact that we have significant brown-water/near-shore obligations, and requirements.

            And the implication w/r/t campaign finance reform is well taken, which would dovetail nicely with acquisition reform.

          • Curtis Conway

            We have agreed on the appropriate mission sets for the LCS, and the ASW module ain’t one of them. That equipment will go on the FFG(X) anyway, and save some weight there for Duane. All LCS should be tasked to NORTHCOM & SOUTHCOM, SOF support, and support Marine Raiders in the Expeditionary Strike Groups. The US Coast Guard had over 100 ship intercepts to which there were no assets to send. We need a twelfth NSC, at least, get the OPCs going quickly, and bring the LCSs home except for those supporting NECC, SOF and Marine Raiders. The NECC needs to work more closely with all GCCs in anti-piracy operations. The SOF and US Coast Guard (with its bilateral agreements with so many countries) are the best vehicles with which to deal with those situations.

          • PolicyWonk

            I agree mostly, but given the PC’s were considered too large for SOF use, I find it hard to believe LCS will fare much better, unless used as a tender for Mark VI patrol boats, or other SOF platforms. We discussed the usage of LCS with an ESG, and I think FFG(X) is the better alternative, while LCS could sail with them to clear mines.

            I’d like to see a 12th NSC, and I’d like to see six more, ice-hardened.

            If NECC can find an appropriate use for LCS, all power to them, and LCS should be able to do the anti-piracy job if the reliability problems can be worked out.

            We just can’t expect them to tangle with peer/near-peer naval opponents.

          • Curtis Conway

            The MCM mission is good, but SOF and amphibious operations use a lot of air, and the LCS’s strong suit is speed and a large flight deck. THAT is very important to SOF, Marine Raiders, amphibious support, and hunting mines too. Hope the flight deck can handle a CH-53K King Stallion performing the MH-53E Sea Dragon’s mission.

          • Duane

            We can and we do expect LCS can tangle with near peer naval warships, and win those battles. WTF do you think the purpose of arming ALL LCS with OTH missiles is? Or the purpose of installing CANES in all LCS, or installing COMBATTS-21 on LCD

          • Duane

            You are in no position to assert that the LCS has no business performing ASW. The Navy is adamantly disagreeing with you on that point. Indeed, the ASW mission module is going IOC in 2019 and Congress (CRS, in its April 2018 report to Congress, describes the LCS ASW capability as unprecedented for a surface warship. It is the only surface warship we have with a variable depth sonar system.

          • Curtis Conway

            Ask a Fast Attack submariner.

          • Curtis Conway

            AND . . . You Are?!

        • Ed L

          Then It’s time to put the LCS’s on patrol in the Persian Gulf based out of Bahrain and more LCS’s based in the Red Sea out of Djibouti At least 4 in Each place to start and expand to 8 LCS in each base. Then they can base 4 to 8 out of Darwin or Da Nang Then 8 in Gitmo for the Caribbean. That’s 32

          • PolicyWonk

            Heh –

            None of ’em are going anywhere this year, and next year remains to be seen. They’ve had big plans for these LCS classes – yet nothing has yet come to fruition: and its been 10 years since the Freedom was commissioned.

            A very loooooong roll-out, no matter how you look at it.

          • Duane

            So what will you say in a few months when 4 LCS forward deploy to Singapore and Bahrain? And a couple years later when that number doubles to 8 forward deployed?

            Or are you just trying to make hay based upon a limited snapshot in time, pretending that that is how it will always be? That would be dishonest, would it not?

            Oh, and btw, do you understand the difference between “underway” and “forward deployed”? There is a big difference, you know. Real sailors understand that difference.

            In my personal experience as crew on an SSN, we spent about many days underway doing various things (training, testing, integrating new weapons and other systems, qualifying to shoot torpedoes, and passing ORSE boards to operate our reactor safely) as we spent on deployment. I understand from numerous sources, reports, and published plans that surface warships also tend to spend about as much time going to sea and getting ready to go on deployment as they spend on actual deplotment.

            I would therefore like to know if you, a constant commenter here at USNI, ever actually took the oath and served in our US Navy, and whether or not you ever served a tour on any US Navy warship of any type.

            Because you claim to know all about LCS when it is not clear that you actually know anything about naval affairs or naval warfighting from first hand experience.

          • Ed L

            Oh I forgot those LCS are going to need repair ships in support. Converted merchant vessels would do. Then the LCS’s can nest alongside

          • PolicyWonk

            You’re probably right.

            The current problem is that the Independence class are currently required to go into dry dock for even basic maintenance, but the USN is apparently investigating if this can be cut back, because they’re clogging the works for other ships that need maintenance (DDG’s, for example).

            Whether its an Austal requirement, or a USN requirement, remains to be seen. Austal has been building aluminum ships for a long time – I’d think they’d know the maintenance requirements really well by now. OTOH, they made a classic design error by having steel components coming into direct contact with aluminum, which is always good for problem creation (this has apparently been fixed). Its really hard with these LCS classes: because the only good news regarding them either comes from the PEO, or Austal/LockMart. DOT&E, OMB, and even the USN’s own IG have repeatedly scorched them.

            I do see a potential mission in LCS: supporting Mark VI patrol, or SOF boats, as a tender. Maybe carry a view Vipers with them in the event of trouble.

      • Duane

        Nope. That is not in the plan and would be a waste of ship building dollars.

        Doing so would take away funding for more SSNs. Virginia class SSNs are far more survivable in 21st century naval warfare than any surface ship, at least until we develop and fully deploy cheap missile defenses capable of fending off mass barrages of cheap ASCMs. Perhaps that will be a reality in the next decade, or perhaps not.

        But we know that our Virginia SSNs do not need to worry about ASCMs at all. And particularly with the VPM and their stealth, they will be formidable offensive platforms against all manner of targets.

        • Curtis Conway

          You are obviously a ‘net sum gain’ kinda guy. It is impossible for you to understand, even IF you had the ability. Keynesian economics compared to Austrian economics. I understand finite budgets, but long range plans must provide the tools the sailors need. The FFG(X) does that, You, and yours have wasted huge sums pursuing a design that is ill advised, and unschooled for Blue Water and Arctic operations, the US Navy’s next big challenge.

          • Duane

            There is in fact a limited supply of defense dollars with many competing demands for those dollars. Some are more effective uses of those limited dollars than others, with a net result that a fleet that is not optimally equipped will produce a sub optimal result.

            In the interwar period before Pearl Harbor, our Navy leaders and Congressional appropriators would have produced a much better result (quicker, less bloody victory) if they had stopped building obsolete heavy battleships which by war’s end produced less than 5% of enemy shipping losses … and produced way more fleet submarines and aircraft carriers that produced 55% and 25%, respectively, of enemy shipping losses by war’s end.

            Hindsight that is 20/20 and all that.

            We know for a fact that SSNs are far more survivable than any surface warship. Perhaps future missile defenses will alter that fact, but certainly not today.

          • Rocco

            Agreed… You would think Duane so he says… Served o subs would know better!!

      • Ed L

        Yes and build 4 submarines a year I am still a big fan of non nuclear submarines. Maybe a dozen AIP submarines would be a good idea. The Japanese, France, German, etc. make fine non nuclear submarines. Smaller less manpower hiding in choke points, being able to stay 3 weeks submerged. My Brother in Law was on a LA class SSN and was transferred to the USS Bonefish (SS-582). He loved that non nuclear boat Said it was able to do things a SSN had trouble doing. Shallowater ops, ambush in choke points and even an took out a bird farm. He said if it wasn’t for that fire onboard they would have had a few more years out of her

        • Duane

          Did you ever serve a tour on a sub?

          That is the obvious question, because no sub sailor I ever knew wanted to serve on any but a nuke boat … for the obvious reasons that nuke boats are far more survivable, and are far better at ASW, than are non nuke boats.

          And yes, I was an SSN sailor in the Cold War.

          The only people I have come across who advocate non nuke boats are people who never served a day at sea submerged on patrol with warshots loaded in the tubes during the Cold War, getting up close and unfriendly with the bad guys.

          I suspect you are in that group.

          • Centaurus

            I served on a Fusion boat. 10 years ago. It ran on seawater.

    • PolicyWonk

      The Russians aren’t able to build that much, due to a lack of funding. They make big plans and make a lot of noise, but there isn’t much action at the end of the day. The Chinese, OTOH, are another matter – we gave them the wherewithal to fuel their military build-up – and they’re obviously taking full advantage of it (the gift that keeps on giving!).

      But the US could resolve a lot of problems by fixing DoD acquisition practices, which are rife with waste, redundancy, and proven lousy practices that far and away garners the US taxpayer the lousiest deal for defense dollar spent in the western hemisphere. For example, the waste is so bad, for the same budget we had in 2016 dollars, we could sustain a considerably larger armed forces, and take care of our vets.

      Unfortunately, the DoD and HoR’s like the system the way it is: the DoD because it provides cushy retirement jobs in the MIC; and the HoR’s because donations continue to fill campaign coffers, while the redundancy and waste brings jobs to their districts (all at the expense of national security). Combine that with the incompetence with which this nations economic foundation is being “managed”, and you’ve got a perfect storm of stupidity.

      Alas.

    • Secundius

      Yeah, but both Russia and China are “Autocratic Governments”, where the Citizens do as there told, have fixed wages, work 24-hours/day and don’t have overtime pay problems…

      • Curtis Conway

        If you are doing as you are told, then you are not a Citizen. A citizen has a franchise and choices, guaranteed by participation. What you describe is not citizenship.

        The function of Citizenship is real, relevant and significant. More than one founding Father of our country mused at length on the fact that the country could not persist without an Active Christian Citizenship. Benjamin Franklin answered (paraphrased] the question of “what kind of government have you created for us?” to which he replied, “a Republic if you can keep it”.
        Freedom is not Free, and liberty must always be tempered with a healthy respect for the Law and others (Individual Rights). However, there must be Foundational Principles upon which everything is built, that Lady Liberty will defend to the death, and everyone must respect. That concept has eroded to the point that the definition of a ‘Citizen’ is in this country is no longer a given. An ‘Open Borders Policy’ of the last administration has permitted the influx of a huge number of undocumented individuals who neither respect our culture, nor wish to assimilate. That has created a huge problem. In a ‘Nation of Laws’ where that law applies to all [Citizens] equally, this should never happen, for it undermines the very foundation upon which the Republic was built, and establishes ‘Precedent’ upon which the demise of the Republic is established. Does this mean there are no Human Rights for non-citizens? Absolutely not, and that legal precedent is already contained within our legal system. The term ‘Illegal Alien’ should be re-adopted, for in legal, social, and factual terms that is exactly what they are. As long as we delude ourselves and this foundational issue persist without resolution, the Republic is in jeopardy.

        • Secundius

          And exactly what Set of Laws “IS” Donald Trump following? He seem to be making it up by the Minute of Everyday…

          • Bubblehead

            DJT does not write the laws, that is the role of Congress. DJT is simply enforcing the laws on the books. If you don’t like the laws, complain to your Congressman. But every nation has a right to enforce its border. Maybe you should take a look at the MS13 gang members coming in, the massive massive drugs and the women & child trafficking coming across the open border.

          • Secundius

            There’s an MS-13 Gang less than 5-miles for where I Live. Their like 7-Eleven, their Everywhere…

          • Curtis Conway

            Are you safe?

          • Stephen

            MS-13 is headquartered in LA; let’s build a wall around LA & sever all communications. Or, the US could establish a 10 mile wide Forbidden Zone on the Southern border. Armed drones could enforce with extreme prejudice.

          • SierraSierraQuebec

            Call up Snake Plisskin too!

          • MarlineSpikeMate

            Huh??

    • SDW

      Many, many people that really ought to know better see the DoD budget like any other source of other people’s money. It is all about how much money is spent, not how much capability is acquired. In case this needs saying, this includes many people in and out of the legislative and executive branches, military and civilian (especially the defense industry).

      • Secundius

        In January 2018, the US Navy announced that the “New” Cruiser replacement will actually be a Destroyer. I stumbled onto a article about the Flight IV Arleigh Burke’s to be scheduled to be built between 2032 to 2041, of which 22 are to be built. Ironically that the same year the “Tico” replacements are scheduled for…

  • Bubblehead

    This is the biggest no brainer in the history of brains. Order the damn subs!

    41 subs divided by 2 coasts = 20 boats per coast. Divide this by 4 or at best 3, and you get the number of boats at sea at a time doing actual missions. That is a disgustingly low number. Remember aircraft carrier battle groups need sub protection. Several subs are tasked with SEAL delivery at a time. What does that leave you with for real Sub missions? Close to none. Nuc Subs are very maintenance heavy and cannot be surged as easily as surface ships either. They require their maintenance and tender loving care more than any other USN vessels. This does not even touch the training part of Sub crew which is very intensive and time consuming.

    • Secundius

      In order to get Donald Trump to Sign the Bill into Law, the Bill would have to Set Aside ~$25-Billion USD for the “Trump Wall” that nobody in the US Congress want’s to Fund and Pen their collective Names too…

      • Matthew Schilling

        How much does Trump pay to rent space in your brain? Do you blurt out about Trump at other random times? Have you thought about getting professional help?

        • Secundius

          The Republican controlled House can’t even muster enough vote for a “Simple Majorty Vote” (i.e. 218 votes) and they have 248 out of 435 seats. A “Super Majority Vote” (i.e. 290 votes, or higher) are required to Override a Presidential Veto, without the aid of the Democrats. Which they’ll never get, unless the Bend to Democrats Needs too…

        • Centaurus

          Professional help costs money, and Trump is sucking up all the professional help immediately available. Melania probably knows someone really good…

  • PolicyWonk

    Since we’re clearly having coverage problems, and with budgetary issues being a stubborn as they are, its past the time when we get pragmatic and invest in an SSK/AIP program, and forward base them in the Med, ME, and SCS.

    The technology is solid, mature, and extremely successful: and we can buy at least 2 (and maybe 3) SSK/AIP boats for the same money it costs to buy one Virginia. This isn’t to say we stop buying Virginias – these would be in addition to the Virginias, and would provide a lot of offensive firepower for comparatively short money.

    • Duane

      Nope, nope, nope. Navy doesn’t want ’em. Crews won’t want to serve on them, since they are not survivable and no match for a SSN or even surface ship ASW. You do realize that our D/E boats suffered the highest casualty rate of any unit of any branch of service in WW2, and that casualty rate was a direct result of the non-surviveability of those boats (slow submerged endurance and speed)?

      You are welcome to volunteer for service on a known death trap … But the Navy will find very few such volunteers.

      • Curtis Conway

        “Nope, nope, nope…Crews won’t want to serve on them, since they are not survivable…” I can’t believe you posted that comment. Since when have you EVER been concerned about the Survivability of a US Navy combatant?

        As far as volunteers, you have plenty fooled on the LCS(s)! that will wear off after the word gets out, and they no longer smell like new drying paint.

        • Rocco

          Copy that!!! One part idiot…The other part stupid!!

      • Rocco

        Like your LCS!!!!!! Death trap!!

    • NavySubNuke

      Already posted this but it applies here too.
      Look at what Australia is doing for their new SSK:
      2014-2015 – capabilities defined and competition started
      2016 – competition winner announced, initial contract awarded
      2017/2018: concept design
      2018-2021 preliminary design phase
      2021-2024 detailed design
      2022 start of construction (FYI this is a major red flag since they won’t have finished detailed design — this is going to cost some serious rework money!!)
      2030 first sub is scheduled for completion
      2030 – 2033 operational testing and evaluation
      2033 First sub enters service
      Projected cost for 12 submarines – ~36B USD (~50B Australian Dollars)
      The Australian SSK is actually the closest model to what a US SSK would need to look like to be of any value. But if it doesn’t arrive until the 2030s and still costs over a billion each there really is no point.
      Adding SSKs to the US fleet would add just as much capability to the Navy as the LCS has — none. Additionally, like the LCS, all it would do is divert procurement and sustainment dollars and trained crews away from submarines that could actually be useful in deterring our adversaries and fighting and winning the nation’s wars should deterrence fail.

      • Bubblehead

        The USN will never agree to SSK’s, like it or not, it aint gonna happen. And Im not saying this is right or wrong, we can argue the merits all day. Im just saying the USN will never agree to it. Congress will have to force it on the USN and I don’t see that happening.

        • NavySubNuke

          Thank God for that – the last thing we need is an LCS-like waste of resources weighing down our undersea forces.

  • Duane

    If our SSN shortfall is as dire as described by these retired admirals – and it is, in my opinion – then the Navy ought to consider designing and building a new, smaller, more economical SSN. The Virginia class SSN is a terrific high end platform, but it is very large (about 8,000 tons) and getting larger with the addition of the VPM on the Block V hulls.

    In the Cold War our primary large production run hunter killer sub was the 637 or Sturgeon class boats. They were much smaller (shorter) and cheaper than either the 688/LA class boats and even much more so than the Virginias. They displaced just 4,600 tons.

    We could take the current state of submarine technology used in the Virginias and now the Colombia class SSBNs, and adapt it to a smaller (shorter) hull that would cost a great deal less than the nearly $3B a hull that a Virginia class costs today, and optimize it for the hunter killer role, and leave off the vertical launch tubes. This new, smaller SSN would not replace the Virginia, but would be in addition to the Virginia. It would cost less than $2B a hull, and could likely end up being superior to a Virginia in the ASW role. It would also need a smaller crew than the Virginia class, which is also a big plus.

    That would be a logical means of adding submarines to cover the SSN gap. Not every submarine needs to be a jack of all trades, or a very large hull.

    This new hunter killer SSN would be a far superior approach than building cheap AIP or D/E boats, as some recommend. A nuke boat is vastly superior in performance to any non nuke boat. With a natural circulation reactor (no running coolant pumps except at high power levels), electric drive (no reduction gears), and a pump jet propulsor, a new tech sub would be just as quiet as an AIP. But far more capable.

    • John Fedup

      A lower cost SSN could have export potential to Canada and maybe Australia in 15 years or so. Canada needs a long range replacement similar to what Australia is hoping to get from the French. It is questionable if a SSK will delver want either nation really needs. It is also questionable if future Canadian governiwill maintain a sub force.

    • Rocco

      Of course they were cheaper Duane!! When was that old sturgeon boat built??? That’s like comparing relative cost of the Forrestal class Carriers to the Crappy LCS Ford!!

      • Duane

        The cost of any ship is driven by the tonnage more than any other factor.

        I did not write the we should start building the old 637 class boats. That is 50 year old technology. I wrote we should design a new smaller SSN using today’s tech but that deletes the multi-role capabilities of the Virginia class that adds a lot of mass and crew, with a sole focus on the ASW hunter killer role. Such a sub need not exceed 5,000 tons, and would dispense with the vertical launch tubes. The focus would be on stealth, nimble handling (the larger the boat, the more it handles like a pig … that’s been known for a hundred years of sub operations), and lethality of ASW weapons and sensors.

        The end result would be a boat costing much less than a Virginia to buy (less than $2B vs. $3B and growing) and operate (crew of no more than 100, as on the Sturgeon boats vs. A crew of 135 on the Virginias).

        This new class would obviously be more expensive than the old 637s, mainly because all ships today are far more expensive than ships built in the 1960s and 1970s. But what matters is relative costs today for a Virginia vs. a much smaller single role hunter killer to face off against all those new subs the Chinese are already building, to stave off the plummet in our own submarine numbers by the beginning of the 2030s.

  • Ser Arthur Dayne

    I think we need to also seriously consider making a few extra Columbia-class SSBNs into SSGNs… right from the shipyard… instead of 16 silos (it’s 16 right? Down from 24 in Ohio?) for Trident SLBMs, have a new, super high tech, 16×7=112 Tomahawk and/or the rumored sub-launched SM-6 variant SSGNs that can use the latest Tactical Tomahawks to attack surface ships, land strike, and of course major SOF operations. The Block V Virginia Payload Module boats will be nice but it’s simply not the same and the Ohio-class SSGNs have been nothing but tremendous successes and outstanding “value” for our national security and both offense & defensive readiness. We need some new SSGNs. Cutting the Seawolfs @ 3 boats was a mistake…. failure to leverage the ability to create amazing SSGNs from the new SSBN line would be a similar mistake.

  • Bubblehead

    Breaking news, the USN will NOT I repeat NOT get the extra Subs. I never give Congress much if any props, but this is a no brainer. I would really love to see their reasoning for this because I can’t think of 1 reason. The vote was not even close!

    There you go folks… 20 attack subs per coast. After aircraft carrier guarding duty & SEAL Delivery, you have only a couple of subs out their performing sea control and recon. If war breaks out with China, this will cost many lives and possibly the war.

    • Duane

      The vote was not to approve a single line item for advanced sub procurement; the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the entire NDAA package that SASC reported out of committee. As always occurs, there are differences between House and Senate NDAA bills that get worked out in conference, then the conference bill gets voted on again, and always passes.

      Whether or not the sub advanced procurement gets authorized or not will be determined solely by the conference committee based on the usual horsetrading.

  • Terry Parnell

    Fast attack submarines are the backbone of protection for the United States fleets. 41 is not enough to get the job done. 72 are needed for both the Pacific and Atlantic fleets. Short of the we have a problem.

    • Ed L

      One Hundred submarines would be better

  • Secundius

    Interesting! DD-792, USS Callaghan, a Fletcher class Destroyer. Armed w/5×5-inch guns, 10x40mm Bofors and 7x20mm cannons was sunk by a Single Wooden-Framed Cloth Covered Biplane Kamikaze…

  • Secundius

    Remind me on when the last Ship Against Ship engagement that an Arleigh Burke class Destroyer performed. Because I can’t think of one…

  • ew_3

    All this talk about SSK or AIP boats is a bit obtuse.
    They have one advantage, they can shut everything down. You could do the same with a WWII sub.
    Once the surface folks go active, they are in deep doo doo. They have no speed. No range.
    Our allies use this technology for a lot of reasons, but primarily for their deep anti nuke views. Would any submariner out there chose to be in the SSK/AIP in a heads up match with VA class? Or even in a match with a USN fleet that has all kinds of pinging gear, P8’s,Helos,DDGs etc. There will be no place to hide. And our subs will be listening for them when they start running.

    • Secundius

      Really!/? How many WWII era Submarines still in operation anywhere? I don’t know of any! The German Type XXI was the only WWII Submarine that used an AIP. And there’s NONE in Operation anywhere…

      • ew_3

        My point was that the tactic of shutting everything do go silent so passive detection systems can’t detect you is nothing new. Problem is when your opponent goes active you have problems.

  • 1coolguy

    Why don’t they put money into upgrading and extending the current fleet, while also building new subs?
    As our subs are superior to many other nations, why don’t we sell the subs that are being retired to Britain, France, Australia, South Korea, etc? I am certain our used subs are superior to anything they have.
    Also, if 1 carrier is the cost of 4 or 5 subs, I buy the subs.

  • Tony Carlisle

    Who is going to align your pump and motors?
    Now, if everyone ( senior officers/enlisted) would be totally honest about the submarine issue. Having 41, 66 or 72 it makes no difference because. Why? Because the truth is that submarine force can not do it’s own minor repairs. Add that private yards and sadly Naval shipyards can barely handle the maintenance, repairs, upgrades, modifications, overhauls, not mention unscheduled yard periods, and emergency/ war damage. Oh yes the nasty little secret the lack of drydock space with the current fleet is strain/pain.
    So the Navy wants 66, 72 boats, and extend the service life of the sub hulls? Last item, say a boat has a very successful patrol in a forward area say mideast or pacific how long will that boat be out of the fight to rearm?
    The navy wants 72 boats? Hum….
    Again, I ask who will rebuild your valves, fix your leaks or calibrate your electronics?