USNI News polled its writers, naval analysts and service members on what they consider the most important military and maritime stories in 2017.
The following is part of a series. Please also see Top Stories: International Acquisition, Navy Operations, Marine Corps Operations, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Acquisition, International Operations and New Administration.
2017 began with the promise of planning for a larger fleet: at the end of 2016, the Navy announced a 355-ship requirement, and the incoming Trump Administration expressed its support for a larger military and a heftier Navy. Few concrete steps were taken this year, though, to begin a buildup – though many programs that will be pivotal to the 355-ship fleet of the future reached significant programmatic milestones in 2017.
An undated artist’s rendering of the planned Columbia-class submarine. Naval Sea Systems Command Image
General Dynamics Electric Boat awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding a contract worth up to $468 million to begin work on integrated product and process development for the upcoming Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarine, according to an HII news release this week. Read More
Launching of Virginia-class submarine Indiana. HII Photo
A top House Armed Services Committee member said the Navy needed a more aggressive attack submarine procurement plan to get the service to its 66-boat requirement on a shorter timeline. Read More
USS Illinois (SSN-786) conducts sea trials in 2016. US Navy Photo
The Navy and industry must prove they can reliably build a Virginia-class attack submarine in just 60 months before talks start about increasing the quantity of boats built each year, the Navy’s top uniformed acquisition official told USNI News. Read More
The Virginia-class attack submarine USS North Dakota (SSN-784) arrives at the Trident Refit Facility’s Magnetic Silencing Facility (MSF) in August 2017. US Navy photo.
The Navy has developed a Tactical Submarine Evolution Plan that looks at rapidly inserting capability upgrades into the Virginia-class attack submarine mid-contract and considers long-term undersea warfare priorities such as converting the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) production line into a guided-missile submarine (SSGN) line in the late 2030s. Read More
The Virginia-class attack submarine Pre-commissioning unit John Warner (SSN 785) is moved to Newport News Shipbuilding’s floating dry dock on Sept. 1, 2014. Huntington Ingalls Industries photo.
The Navy has confirmed that its submarine industrial base can continue building two Virginia-class attack submarines a year even while adding the Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarine to its workload, giving a key congressman confidence in the House’s plan to boost submarine procurement in the coming years. Read More
An artist’s conception of a Raytheon’s SPY-6 radar on a Flight III Arleigh Burke destroyer . Raytheon Image
The Navy wants to buy guided-missile destroyers and attack submarines in bulk but has plans to upgrade the designs of both after the purchase, causing some concern among lawmakers that the design changes could hurt the programs’ stable cost and schedule. Read More
USS Minnesota (SSN-783) under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding in 2012. US Navy Photo
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Navy plans to buy a second Virginia-class attack submarine in Fiscal Year 2021 to keep the industrial base building two SSNs a year even during Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarine procurement, several Navy officials confirmed today. Read More
USS Rafael Peralta (DDG-115) before the christening ceremony at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine on Oct. 31, 2015. US Marine Corps Photo
U.S. shipbuilding industry could support the Navy’s ambitious plan to quickly grow the fleet to 355 ships, but would need help through stable and predictable funding, including more use of multi-year and block-buy contracts and advanced procurement funding, three top industry executives said on Wednesdays. Read More
A deck view, looking toward the bow, of the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine OHIO (SSBN-726) with its missile tubes opened during precommissioning activities. The Navy is moving ahead with its Ohio Replacement Program, recently named the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program, to achieve lead boat construction in 2021, delivery in 2029 and deployment in 2031.
Navy and Pentagon acquisition officials this week spent a day at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Connecticut and Rhode Island, taking a close look at the Columbia class — formerly the Ohio Replacement Program — ahead of a Milestone B decision this fall, the Navy’s acquisition chief told USNI News. Read More