Navy Doubles Down on Submarine Industrial Base Funding in Unfunded Request

March 26, 2024 5:32 PM
USS South Dakota (SSN-790) transits the Thames River during a homecoming event in Groton, Conn., Aug. 14, 2023. US Navy Photo

Money to bolster the submarine industrial base is at the top of the Navy’s $2.24 billion unfunded priorities list for Fiscal Year 2025, but that item is dependent on the fate of the Biden administration’s national security supplemental request.

In a March 25 letter to Congress, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti said the FY 2024 supplemental request – which includes $3.3 billion for the submarine industrial base – is her number one unfunded item.

“Our FY 2025 President’s Budget is based on enacted appropriations for both the FY 2024 President’s Budget and National Security Supplemental,” Franchetti wrote in the letter. “The FY 2025 request for SIB investments are thus distinct from and build upon the National Security Supplemental Request. If not appropriated in FY 2024, then this is my top unfunded priority for FY 2025.”

Lawmakers have yet to pass the Biden administration’s national security supplemental funding request. If Congress does not pass the supplemental request, then the Navy’s top unfunded priority is $403 million so the submarine industrial base increase for FY 2025 matches the $3.3 billion supplemental.

“If not appropriated in FY24, then Navy’s top unfunded priority is additional SIB funding to at least increase the new FY25 SIB investment to the same level as the National Security Supplemental Request,” the annual wish list reads.

“These funds would increase production rates and submarine availability through initiatives in supplier development, shipbuilder and supplier infrastructure, workforce development, technology advancements, and strategic sourcing. SIB investments directly support AUKUS partnerships that strengthen Indo-Pacific security.”

The Navy is seeking a total of $3.9 billion for the submarine industrial base in FY 2025. In prior years, the service already planned to spend $1 billion to bolster submarine builders and suppliers in FY 2025, but increased that number by another $2.9 billion in this year’s proposal. Should Congress fail to pass the supplemental, the $403 million for the shipbuilding account on the unfunded list would bring that FY 2025 plus up to $3.3 billion, USNI News understands.

The service’s second unfunded priority also depends on the fate of a supplemental request. Should lawmakers not pass a domestic needs supplemental, which the Biden administration also asked for last year, then the second item on the Navy’s wish list is $600 million to fix the Glass Breakwater, an artificial sea wall at the deep water port in Guam, that suffered damager during Typhoon Mawar last year.

“This funds repair of the Breakwater as a high priority to ensure the integrity of Apra Harbor and the Navy’s ability to sustain forces, and reduce risk to mobilize and transport Joint forces during short notice responses,” the list reads. “PB-24 did not include funding for Glass Breakwater, but the Critical Domestic Needs Supplemental Request included $900M in Guam [facilities sustainment, restoration, and modernization].”

Other items on the list ask for additional funding to speed up the development and/or acquisition of a range of items, including $92.9 million in operations and maintenance funding to replenish the Navy’s stockpile of SM-2 weapons that have been part of the service’s operations in the Red Sea to protect commercial shipping from Houthi attacks.

Guided-missile destroyer USS Rafael Peralta (DDG-115) fires an SM-2 BLK-A from the forward missile deck during a live fire exercise on July 22, 2023. US Navy Photo

“Funding procures additional SM-2 Blk III and IIIA/B recertification materials to maximize capacity in FY25 and replenish combat usage quicker,” according to the wish list. “[The] Navy currently has a backlog of SM-2s ready for recertification. These assets are in the inventory, but are non-combat usable (i.e. not available to fill VLS cells for combat) until they are recertified.

The eighth item on the list is $184 million in research and development funding to speed up the pursuit of the Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (XLUUV). Those dollars would expedite “the transition of the Hunter payload into the Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (XLUUV) program of record, improved communications capabilities, one (1) XLUUV prototype with Hunter payload, and additional risk reduction activities in support of an accelerated XLUUV procurement profile,” according to the justification.

In addition to the $2.24 billion wish list, the Navy also submitted $1.45 billion in unfunded priorities for military construction. The top item on that list is $505 million for a water treatment plant in Honolulu, Hawaii that would address clean water issues following the Red Hill fuel leak on the island. In its justification for the ask, the Navy says the planning for the water treatment facility was premature, so the service did not incorporate it into the budget request.

“Planning and design for P716 have since matured to enable award in FY25 as executable if funded,” the unfunded list reads.
“This emergent need provides a Water Treatment Plant to deliver an effective and permanent drinking water treatment facility for removing potential contaminants at the Red Hill water supply shaft, and ensures that treated water continues to meet all Federal and State drinking water standards.”

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne is a reporter for USNI News. She previously covered the Navy for Inside Defense and reported on politics for The Hill.
Follow @MalShelbourne

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