The White House released a supplemental budget request Friday that included $3.4 billion to support the submarine industrial base as part of a larger $50 billion package that includes weapons for Ukraine and humanitarian aid for Israelis and Palestinians following the Hamas attacks in Gaza, according to the proposal reviewed by USNI News.
The submarine portion of the supplemental targets improvements to the industrial base that has lagged behind the Navy’s goals of delivering two Virginia-class submarines a year, in addition to construction of the Columbia-class nuclear ballistic-missile submarine – the Navy’s number one acquisition priority.
“This funding will accelerate build and sustainment rates for attack submarines, one of our most effective capabilities for maintaining deterrence, in order to meet U.S. military requirements,” reads the Friday White House statement.
Submarine builders General Dynamic Electric Boat and HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding are far behind schedule in delivering the Virginia attack boats. Split between the two yards, the Virginia program is a combined 410 months behind schedule, according to a Navy construction estimate reviewed by USNI News earlier this year. The shipyards are delivering 1.2 attack boats a year and are on a path to reach two Virginias a year by 2028, USNI News previously reported.
The industrial base has been further pressurized by the U.S. commitment, along with the U.K., to develop nuclear attack boats for the Royal Australian Navy as part of the AUKUS construct. Australia has pledged $3 billion on its own to support the U.S. submarine industrial base.
“These investments will also support U.S. commitments under AUKUS… the first major deliverable of which was our historic decision to support Australia acquiring conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines. Australia has also committed to provide a proportionate financial investment in the U.S. submarine industrial base to accelerate the delivery of Virginia class submarines,” reads the statement from the White House.
Specifically, supplemental calls for:
- $558 million for improvements for the Navy’s four public shipyards.
- $2.1 billion “to increase production rates and submarine availability through initiatives in supplier development, shipbuilder and supplier infrastructure, workforce development, technology advancements, and strategic outsourcing.“
- $394 million for other procurement.
- $7 million for research and development.
- $282 million for military construction.
- $98 million “to support hiring and infrastructure expansion at Government-Owned, Contractor-Operated Naval Nuclear Laboratory sites in order to meet growing mission demands to provide the AUKUS partnership with nuclear propulsion plants.”
The submarine industrial base supplemental follows a July call from Republican lawmakers to inject money into the industry to improve Virginia-class output to support the AUKUS effort and shore up the lag in attack submarine deliveries, USNI News reported at the time.
“We urge you to send Congress immediately an AUKUS-specific request for appropriations and authorities alongside a multi-year plan to increase U.S. submarine production to a minimum of 2.5 Virginia-class attack submarines per year. It is time to make generational investments in U.S. submarine production capacity, including supplier and workforce development initiatives,” reads a July letter from Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).
In a Friday statement, Rep Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) praised the submarine supplemental
“This request will not only help the industrial base increase production and capacity to ensure the Navy can meet its own fleet requirements but also position the AUKUS mission for success. With [Australia] Prime Minister [Anthony] Albanese’s official visit to the United States in just a few days, President Biden is proving, once again, that the U.S. has an unwavering commitment to the trilateral security agreement and maintaining peace in the Indo Pacific,” he said in a statement.