New Navy Sub Build Strategy: Electric boat will focus on Ohio replacement while Newport News delivers more SSNs
The Navy released a Submarine Unified Build Strategy (SUBS) for concurrent Ohio Replacement ballistic missile submarine and Virginia Class attack submarine production through at least 2023. The plan calls for Newport News Shipbuilding taking on additional responsibilities with the Virginia class to help General Dynamics Electric Boat more effectively deliver the new class of boomers, service officials said to USNI News on Monday of this week.
“To execute this strategy, General Dynamics Electric Boat Corporation (GDEB) has been selected as the prime contractor for OR with the responsibilities to design and deliver the twelve OR submarines. Huntington Ingalls Industries- Newport News Shipbuilding (HII-NNS) will participate in the design and construct major OR assemblies and modules leveraging their expertise with VCS construction,” Navy spokeswoman Capt. Thurraya Kent said in a statement on March 28th, 2016.
In recent testimony before Congress, Navy leaders have expressed concern about maintaining their undersea advantage against adversaries such as Russia and China. Current production of Virginia-class subs stands at two per year.
“Both shipbuilders will continue to deliver [Virginias] throughout the period, with GDEB continuing its prime contractor responsibility for the program. Given the priority of the OR Submarine Program, the delivery of [Virginias] will be adjusted with HII-NNS performing additional deliveries. Both shipbuilders have agreed to this build strategy.”
The Navy will face a shortfall in its attack submarine force beginning in the mid-2020’s, and the service hopes to blunt the impact of this bathtub by building one additional SSN in 2021.
Director of Undersea Warfare Rear Adm. Charles Richard (OPNAV N97) told USNI News in a March 22 interview that building the second SSN in 2021 “is one of the best opportunities that we have to take action to address” the upcoming shortfall.
“It paints about 27 percent of that trough, so you get that back, and that’s an opportunity you won’t have after that point – you will have other opportunities, they just wont be as effective,” he said, explaining that the 2021 submarine would erase the shortfall in years the fleet will be short just one boat and will lessen the severity of the shortfall in other years.
“And from a program I think some have described as getting 10 for the price of nine (in the previous block buy), now that they’re giving you a chance to potentially get 10 for the price of 9.4 or something and do it again, I think that’s something that deserves a hard look in terms of can we take advantage of that opportunity.”