Download PDF Navy SSBN(X) Ballistic Missile Submarine Program: Background and Issues for Congress

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The agreement was renewed in for another ten years. In return, the UK agreed to formally assign its nuclear forces to the defence of NATO, except in an extreme national emergency, under the terms of the Nassau Agreement reached between President John F. In it emerged that simulation testing at Aldermaston on dual axis hydrodynamics experiments had provided the US with scientific data it did not otherwise possess on this RRW programme. The U. President George W.

Spending Even Less, Spending Even Smarter

The technology exchange is managed and led by the US and UK Governments, with participation from Naval Reactors prime contractors, private nuclear capable shipbuilders, and several suppliers. A UK based office comprised of about 40 US personnel provide full-time engineering support for the exchange, with additional support from key US suppliers and other US based program personnel as needed. The relationship between the US and UK under the mutual defence agreement is an ongoing relationship and the level of support varies depending on the nature of the support being provided.

For example, a collaboration agreement has been signed off regarding the platform integration of sonar arrays with the respective combat systems. The final AOA report was completed in September Design, prototyping, and technology development efforts will continue to ensure sufficient technological maturity for lead ship procurement in In explaining the planned procurement quantity of 12 boats, the Navy states that 10 operational SSBNs—meaning boats not encumbered by lengthy maintenance actions—are needed to meet strategic nuclear deterrence requirements for having a certain number of SSBNs at sea at any given moment.

The Navy states that a force of 14 Ohio-class boats was needed to meet this requirement because, during the middle years of the Ohio class life cycle, three and sometimes four of the boats are non-operational at any given moment on account of being in the midst of mid-life nuclear refueling overhauls. The Navy states that 12 rather than 14 SSBN X s will be needed to meet the requirement for 10 operational boats because the mid-life overhauls of SSBN X s, which will not include a nuclear refueling, will require less time about two years than the mid-life refueling overhauls of Ohio-class boats which require three or something more than three years , the result being that only two SSBN X s rather than three or sometimes four will be in the midst of mid-life overhauls at any given moment during the middle years of the SSBN X class life cycle.

The Navy states that the reduction to 10 boats during this period is acceptable in terms of meeting strategic nuclear deterrence requirements, because during these years, all 10 of the SSBNs in service will be operational i. The Navy acknowledges that there is some risk in having the SSBN force drop to 10 boats, because it provides little margin for absorbing an unforeseen event that might force an SSBN into an unscheduled and lengthy maintenance action.

The reduced SSBN availability during this time frame reinforces the importance of remaining on schedule with the Ohio Replacement program to meet future strategic requirements. As the Ohio Replacement ships begin their mid-life overhauls in , 12 SSBNs will be required to offset ships conducting planned maintenance.

America's New Nuclear Missile Submarines Might Have a Problem

The electric-drive system is expected to be quieter i. For Navy submarines, which have cylindrical hulls, beam is the diameter of the hull. Naval Institute Proceedings, June Bishop is program manager for the Ohio replacement program. Navy submarines. The report states on page that cost figures in the report are presented in constant FY dollars.

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While DoN cannot yet state with certainty it will achieve this aggressive target, it is committed to meeting this goal. See also Christopher J. This is the principal reason why the FY budget included a substantial amount of research and development funding for the CMC. The UK is providing some of the funding for the design of the CMC, including a large portion of the initial funding.

This effort includes the participation of government officials from both countries, as well as industry officials from Electric Boat Corporation and BAE Systems. Program Funding Table 3 shows funding for the Ohio replacement program. The table shows U. FY14 proj. FY15 proj. FY16 proj. FY17 proj. Notes: PE means Program Element, that is, a research and development line item.

A Program Element may include several projects. Each of these issues is discussed below. With respect to the schedule [for the program], the schedule as it was [under the FY budget], was an aggressive one, maybe even verging on optimistic. So I—all I'm saying is this is a safer schedule; we're sure we can make this schedule. And it is equivalent to that—the operational availability of SSBNs that we provide today. We'll work with them in the future, but they look the same. A Design with 16 vs. But we were challenged to—to drive the cost of that ship down, and as far as our part was concerned, one of the key decisions that was made that—that helped us in that regard was a continued These observers also cite the uncertainties associated with projecting needs for strategic deterrent forces out to the year , when the final SSBN X is scheduled to leave service.

The decision and the recommendation that I made with regard to the number of tubes—launch tubes are consistent with the new START treaty. And even though it may be characterized as a cost cutting measure, I believe it sizes the ship for the missions it will perform. One item that we had a discussion on was the triad, of looking to—of the Navy But what it also allowed us to do was to go back [to the use of existing components]. The size [of the ship] fell into the envelope where we could go back and use components that we had already designed for the Virginia class [attack submarines] and bring those into this design, not have to do it over again, but several of the mechanical components, to use those over again.

But we were allowed to do that. Source: Transcript of hearing. I would like your thoughts on the reduction of the tubes and what you see driving that, how you see it affecting our strategic posture and any other thoughts you have on that? Well, first of all, sir, let me say that the—in my mind anyway, the discussion of Trident and Ohio-class replacement is really a discussion in the context of the need to modernize the entire triad. Second, the issue of the number of tubes is not a simple black-and-white answer. So let me just comment here for a minute.

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First of all, the issue in my mind is the overall number of tubes we wind up with at the end, not so much as the number of tubes per submarine. Another consideration that is important to me is the overall number of boats and the operational flexibility that we have with the overall number of boats, given that some number will need to be in maintenance, some number will need to be in training, et cetera. And so those and many other factors—to include a little bit of foresight here, in looking ahead to 20 years from now in antisubmarine warfare environment that the Navy will have to operate in, all of those bear on the ultimate sideways shape configuration of a follow-on to the Ohio.

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At this point, Mr. Chairman, I am not overly troubled by going to 16 tubes. As I look at this, given that we have that kind of flexibility that I just laid out; given that this is an element of the triad and given that we have some decision space here as we go forward to decide on the ultimate number of submarines, nothing troubles me operationally here to the extent that I would oppose a submarine with 16 tubes. I understand the reasons for wanting to have I understand the arguments that were made ahead of me. But as I sit here today, given the totality of the discussion, I am—as I said, I am not overly troubled by But the subcommittee has had a discussion in the past with regards to the Ohio-class replacement program.

For moving from 24 to 16 as opposed to the max of 20? Throughout that process, we provided, from the SWS [strategic weapon system] capability, our perspective. And so, as the acquisition and the SWS provider, we are prepared to support that decision by leadership, sir. And your analysis supports—did your analysis that fed into this, did you look at specific numbers then? Yes, yes, yes. One way the Navy has proposed to close the gap between its fleet goal and its resources is to extend the life of existing ships by 5 to 19 years.

The service lives of other classes could likewise be lengthened. Keeping the hull, mechanical, and engineering systems going this long is likely possible, given appropriate maintenance. In the past, however, the Navy has retired ships early to free funds for new construction and because of concerns that the combat systems were becoming obsolete.

Navy Submarines: Overview of Virginia and Ohio Class Programs

The Navy considered options to reactivate retired ships, especially the recently retired FFG-7 Perry -class but judged that the combat systems needed too much upgrading to make the reactivation worthwhile. The chart below shows the different projections for ship inventories from Navy year shipbuilding plans. The FY projection, the last of the Obama administration, hit its ship goal through the s, then dipped below for the remainder of the projection. The Trump administration produced several shipbuilding options in its FY year shipbuilding plan. There was no plan in FY since the Trump administration had just taken office.

The basic, sustainable FY option reached about ships through the s, then rose to about but did not achieve ships until the s, outside the year window. The higher budget cost was a major stumbling block, so the Navy proposed extending ship service lives.

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That greatly increased ship count starting in the late s, reaching ships by FY The plan adopts the FY extended service life plan, reaching a total of ships in FY though not of the exact distribution in the ship FSA and capping fleet size at that level. The FY plan is lower in the near term because of decisions this year to retire MCMs and cruisers discussed later.

All of this carefully planned and deeply analyzed ship fleet may soon be tossed out the window or porthole. As noted earlier, all the services, the Navy included, have been criticized for not moving fast enough to align budgets and procurement plans with the national defense strategy. These would be smaller than the smallest U. The planned medium and large UUVs are more like munitions than manned vehicles, being small and, as a result, funded in the Other Procurement, Navy appropriation.

These systems could act like reconnaissance elements for manned submarines and, eventually, underwater strike assets. The Navy plans to release a new force structure assessment in late Navy leaders have dropped hints that it will include new capabilities such as smaller ships and unmanned systems that are more adaptable to distributed operations. To pay for these new capabilities, the FSA might propose retiring legacy systems. This is the shipbuilding rate that would be needed to reach ships over the long term.

Shipbuilding projections in the FYDP average 11 new ships per year.

U.S. Military Forces in FY Navy | Center for Strategic and International Studies

With the exception of the Columbia -class SSBN and the new FFG X , Navy shipbuilding programs are in serial production and moving ahead without major issues assuming the Ford -class carrier can get its elevators and catapults to work. The addition of unmanned surface ships, discussed earlier, is a major change and may be a signal for large changes to shipbuilding plans in the future. The size of the carrier force drives Navy force structure and budgets for two reasons: carriers and their escorts take up most of the shipbuilding budget, and providing aircraft for the carriers takes most of the aviation budget.

The long-running debate about carrier utility and survivability continues without resolution: are carriers versatile systems, providing a strong backbone for naval operations in peace and war or are carriers dinosaurs, too large and vulnerable to survive in great power conflicts? On the one hand, a RAND study indicated that other carrier options might be attractive.

Congress authorized the Navy to do this, and the Navy executed the two-carrier option in January Seeming to have second thoughts about the size of the carrier force, the Navy proposed retiring the USS Harry Truman CVN early, arguing that the funds freed up could be allocated to programs focused on the new strategy.

However, the incongruity of buying new carriers while retiring existing carriers early was hard to justify. As a result, the Navy quickly reversed the decision. DDG Destroyers. DDG Zumwalt Destroyers.