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Navy Confronts Anticipated Submarine Shortfall

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Navy Confronts Anticipated Submarine Shortfall

Postby Tom Dougherty » Mon Sep 16, 2013 2:18 pm

Navy Confronts Anticipated Submarine Shortfall

Congressional lawmakers and Navy leaders said Thursday that combatant commander’s global demand for submarines far exceeds what is available or possible.

Existing or legacy submarines such as the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarines are retiring at a far faster rate than new submarines can be added. The Navy anticipates a sizeable drop in the available submarine fleet over the next 15 years, service leaders told lawmakers Sept. 12 at a House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces hearing.

“With the accelerated retirement of Los Angeles-class submarines, our nation will drop below the 48-boat goal starting in 2025,” said Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., chairman of the HASC Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces. “We need to ensure strategy drives our budget and that we give a voice to our combatant commanders. We need to be sure that we provide them with every resource.”
The Navy’s current fleet of 55 attack submarines, or SSNs, will drop down to 42, Rear Adm. Richard Breckenridge, director of undersea warfare said in written testimony . Four guided missile submarines, or SSGNs, will retire and the Navy’s current fleet of 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, or SSBNs, will drop to 10, Breckenridge wrote.

“The total submarine force will drop from 73 to 52 ships — a cut of 29 percent – before rebounding in the 2030s. The vertical strike payload volume provided by the undersea force will drop by well over half. This trough is borne of the submarine shipbuilding hiatus of the 1990s, and no realistic build plan could now prevent it,” said Breckenridge.

In addition, there may not be enough funds to pursue continued development of several next-generation submarine programs such as the Virginia-class fast attack submarine and the Ohio Replacement Submarine program, a nuclear-armed replacement for the existing class of Ohio-class ballistic missile subs.

“We must stay underway with the advancements of our submarines and undersea warfare capabilities. With falling budgets and sequestration, we are concerned with how the Navy will be able to keep these programs on track,” said Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., ranking member on the subcommittee.

McIntyre explained that the defense budget for fiscal year 2014 includes more than $5 billion for continued construction of Virginia-class submarines as well as $750 million in research and development for the Ohio Replacement Submarine program.

Full article at:

Related material:

Defense Daily
September 13, 2013

Navy May Delay Los Angeles-Class Sub Retirements To Mitigate SSN Shortfall

Megan Eckstein

The Navy is beginning to monitor its Los Angeles-class (SSN-688) attack
submarines to determine if any can remain in the fleet past their expected
service lives, as the SSN fleet was already set to dip below its minimum
force of 48 boats and sequestration cuts only worsen the shortfall.

The Los Angeles-class subs are set for retirement this decade, with one in
fiscal year 2014 and more in subsequent years at an increasing rate.
Beginning in 2025, the SSN fleet will drop below 48 for more than a decade,
hitting only 42 boats in 2030, Rear Adm. Richard Breckenridge, the Navy¹s
director of undersea warfare, testified Sept. 12 to the House Armed Services
seapower and projection forces subcommittee.

"We are carefully monitoring each hull, how much life is in their core, what
are their other systems¹ health looking like, to see if we can maybe get a
year or two extension on the Los Angeles class," he told the subcommittee.

In written testimony to the subcommittee, he noted, "SSN fuel and material
condition are being carefully managed to maximize the chance that some life
extensions will be possible. If current trends continue it may be possible
to fill about one-third of the ship-years of SSN shortfall."
Tom Dougherty
Researcher for Project Azorian
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