CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
- Apr 21, 2009
- Reaction score
The U.S. Navy recently signed its largest-ever shipbuilding contract. Here's what the service bought.www.defensenews.com
Rather like proposals around restarting F-22 production that wouldn’t be realistically possible or wise; too expensive and/ or you’d be better off spending the same money (or more money as costs escalate) on a newer design with newer technology and far less rapid obsolescence down the line.They already have a better design, the Seawolf class. If they had any sense they would bite the bullet and begin the process of building new examples.
Building new SEAWOLF class boats would be like building new Flight I Burkes. Fundamentally, you can think of the differences as SEAWOLF being analogue and VIRGINIA digital. The technology is outdated, and you probably couldn't buy a lot of the parts even if you went in with a blank cheque. So you'd have to redesign the boat so thoroughly that you might as well design an entirely new boat.They already have a better design, the Seawolf class. If they had any sense they would bite the bullet and begin the process of building new examples.
The HASC draft largely agrees with SASC on cutting robot ships and adding manned ones, but the two are far apart on Joint Strike Fighters.breakingdefense.com
Both bodies restore a Virginia-class attack submarine the Trump Administration would have cut, but the HASC cuts other shipbuilding programs to build the sub sooner; HASC adds $2.16 billion to shipbuilding overall when SASC added $1.35 billion. UPDATE A HASC aide argued vehemently that SASC really only funds a quarter of the missing sub, punting most of the cost to another year — which could disrupt the production line not only for Virginias but for the larger Columbia class. (Much more on this below).
Differences Over The Fleet
While the House and Senate Armed Services committees both sought to restore the. Virginia submarine cut by Trump’s budget and cut unmanned warship prototypes, they did so in markedly different ways.
All told, the administration asked for just over $19.9 billion for the Shipbuilding & Conversion, Navy (SCN) account. Both committees increased that, but by different amounts: SASC by $1.35 billion (7%); HASC by $2.16 billion (11%).
That’s in large part because, while SASC restored the submarine by adding $472 million in Advanced Procurement to start buying it, with funding to finish it left to a later year, the HASC restored the full $2.6 billion to buy it in 2021.
UPDATE Congress, shipyards, and the Navy have labored mightily to keep building two Virginias a year, but after the Trump administration cut one from its 2021 request, “the Senate did nothing to fund the second submarine in FY 21,” a HASC staffer told reporters.
The $472 million SASC labeled Advanced Procurement is only enough to buy the submarine’s reactor, the staffer elaborated to me after the conference call. You’d need to find nearly $3 billion more to buy the whole boat, he said, and you’d need to find that money in the next two years. Otherwise, not only are you stuck with a useless fraction of a Virginia submarine, you disrupt the production line so badly it hurts the larger Columbia class as well.
Without full funding for two Virginias in 2021, the shipyards, Electric Boat and Newport News, will have to start laying off workers — at the very time they need to ramp up their workforce to build the even larger Columbia class. The shipyards’ contract with the Navy and the multi-year timeline to buy a sub give them some leeway to keep building two boats a year, the staffer said, but by 2023 they’d run out of room and have to start layoffs.UPDATE ENDS
To make up the full amount required to restore the Virginia submarine, HASC also had to dock several other shipbuilding programs that SASC increased.
The major differences, besides the Virginia?
Given the popularity of shipbuilding programs, which are big employers in many states, the odds are good that the final compromise will have more adds than cuts.
- Columbia-class nuclear missile submarine: SASC added $175 million to shore up the shaky submarine supplier base; HASC added nothing UPDATE but would argue their plus-up to the Virginia program does much more to keep the supplier base strong.
- Ford-class aircraft carrier: SASC funded the administration’s full request; HASC cut $90 million.
- Arleigh Burke destroyers: SASC cut $30 million, HASC funded the full request.
- Amphibious ships: SASC added $500 million to both the mid-size LPD class and the larger LHA, HASC cut $37.7 million from LPD and did nothing on LHA.
- Support craft: SASC cut $126 million from various landing craft and other auxiliaries, HASC funded the full request.