By Tom Z. Collina
In these days of high-stakes budget battles on Capitol Hill, it is typical for budget managers to point at someone else’s program as the problem. But when everyone starts pointing at the same program, you know it’s in trouble.
And everyone—including the Navy—seems to be pointing their fingers at the Navy’s $100 billion program to build 12 new nuclear-armed submarines, known as the Ohio Replacement or the SSBN(X).
On May 10, the Navy sent its much-anticipated FY2014 long-range shipbuilding plan to Congress. The plan lays bare why the new sub is in hot water. In his cover letter to the report, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wrote, in an understatement, that “there will be resourcing challenges…largely due to investment requirements associated with the SSBN(X) program.”
The report itself is more blunt. It says that if the Navy funds the SSBN(X) “from within its own resources,” the program will “take away from construction of other ships in the battle force such as attack submarines, destroyers, aircraft carriers and amphibious warfare ships. The resulting battle force will not meet the requirements of the [2012 Navy Force Structure Assessment] and will therefore not be sufficient to implement the [Defense Strategic Guidance]. In addition, there will be significant impact to the shipbuilding industrial base.” Continue reading