US Navy's Number of Ballistic Missile Submarines to Shrink Says Congressional Committee
April 26th, 2012
A minimum of 12 ballistic missile submarines must remain in service for the foreseeable future, a key congressional committee said, despite Navy plans to drop below that number beginning in 2029.
The provision is included in the markup of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee, which was released Wednesday.
Although 14 Ohio-class “boomers” are now in service, the fleet is scheduled to begin shrinking in 2027 as the oldest units are retired. Current Navy plans show the force dropping to 11 ships in 2029 and reaching 10 ships in 2032, where the level holds for a decade before starting to rise again as new replacement submarine come on line.
The markup — the first legislative process in assembling a defense authorization bill to send to the full House of Representatives — also approves a Navy request for a new multiyear procurement authority for Virginia SSN 774-class attack submarines. The subcommittee granted MYP authority for 10 submarines beginning in 2014, and allows for incremental funding of the ships.
Other Navy-related provisions in the markup include:
• Authorization of an MYP for up to 10 Arleigh Burke DDG 51-class destroyers and allowance of $3 billion for two ships in the 2013 program, the first year of the MYP.
• Granting an extension of the incremental funding of the future aircraft carriers CVN 79 and CVN 80 from a five-year period to a six-year period.
• Limiting spending on the refueling and complex overhaul of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln to $1.6 billion in 2013, the first year of a two-year incremental funding profile.
The markup also requires additional risk-reduction technology development for the follow-on aircraft of the Unmanned Carrier-launched Surveillance and Strike system — currently in technology development as the X-47B aircraft — and requires a “competitive acquisition environment” for the program. The markup notes the change in terminology from a “future unmanned carrier-based strike system” to “unmanned carrier-launched surveillance and strike system,” indicating an increased emphasis on the surveillance role.
It also repeals a provision in the 2008 defense authorization law that required all new classes of combatant strike vessels to be nuclear-powered, a pet project of former Seapower subcommittee chairman Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., who was defeated in the last elections.
The markup also directs the Navy to report on the issue of ship superstructure cracking, with an emphasis on the choice of superstructure material for the DDG 51 Flight III-class ships, the first of which is scheduled to be ordered in 2016. The subcommittee wants information “comparing the estimated construction costs for a deckhouse made of each of the three materials, or even a possible hybrid of two or all three, and then compares the estimated lifecycle costs for the designed life of the ship.”
The markup makes no mention for producing any other information other than cost factors.
The full committee will hold its formal markup sessions on Thursday.
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