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.
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
Sailors bring the Virginia-class attack submarine USS Washington (SSN 787) to life during the commissioning ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk on Oct. 7, 2017. Washington is the U.S. Navy’s 14th Virginia-class attack submarine and the fourth U.S. Navy ship named for the State of Washington. US Navy photo.
This post has been updated to include additional background on the two-a-year versus three-a-year talks for the Virginia class. This post has also been corrected to include the accurate title for Tom Dee, performing the duties of the under secretary of the Navy.
THE PENTAGON – The Navy’s undersea warfare division is eyeing a stable two-a-year attack submarine rate to reach its ultimate goal of a 66-SSN fleet, despite calls from outside the service to build a larger navy faster. Read More
The future Virginia-class attack submarine USS Illinois (SSN 786) conducts sea trials on Aug. 1, 2016. General Dynamics Electric Boat photo.
The Virginia-class submarine program office is looking to get its attack boats out to the fleet faster through shortening the post-shakedown availability period to just three months, the program manager told USNI News. 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
A crane moves the lower stern into place on the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) at Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va. on June 22, 2017. HII Photo
The Navy is unable to start or ramp up a range of major programs under a continuing resolution, and Pentagon officials are urging the quick passage of a full FY 2018 budget. 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
Four F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighters fly in formation over Naval Air Station Lemoore in January 2016. US Navy photo.
The Navy has asked lawmakers for additional aircraft, warfighting capability improvements and facilities upgrades if more money were to become available to the service, with the release of its Fiscal Year 2018 Unfunded Priorities List. Read More