Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Not Quite Following the Logic...

Everyone in Connecticut seems really worried about the upcoming BRAC round. Today, Sen. Dodd of Connecticut released a letter that seems to say that Subase New London should stay open because of the growing Chinese submarine threat. While I agree that it'd be nice if the submarine force were spared any cuts, I'm not sure that's the argument I'd use; it seems like saying that the Chinese threat is most urgent could be taken as a call to move more submarine assets to the West Coast, and if a base needs to be closed, it should be an East Coast base. Since King's Bay (the East Coast Trident base) won't close (we need two) and Norfolk definitely won't close, that leaves Groton as the only operational East Coast base on the chopping block. My guess: the submarine force's contribution to base closing will be Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, which results in more work for Electric Boat (a subsidiary of General Dynamics). Everyone wins! (Portsmouth kinda sucks, IMHO. It's cold, and guys on the boats that go for overhaul have to PCS there, which is a major pain in the ass.)

Going deep...


Blogger Vigilis said...

Dodd may be concerned because (1) the BRAC committee has no New England reps and (2) as a Senator in the minority party, his current influence may be "a little" less than he has been accustomed to exercising.

3/31/2005 1:59 PM

Blogger Vigilis said...

..forgot3)Gen.Dynamics "partners" with Portsmouth, so if Portsmouth goes it might hurt GD in CT.

3/31/2005 2:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're off base with your comments about Portsmouth. From a readiness perspective, it's the best deal for the submarine force when it comes to cost and schedule. Compared to the other public yards, Portsmouth is the only one that consistently meets or beats the notional price for the various availabilities (ERO, EOH, DMP), and the only one that meets schedule - generally beating it by several months. When you throw in the private yards, forget it! The submarine force is hemmorhaging money with Electric Boat availabilities. Building submarines is a hell of a lot different than fixing them, as EB is finding out on Springfield. NAVSEA has designated Portsmouth as the Lead 688 Shipyard because of their success in getting the job done right, on time and under budget. In fact, Portsmouth has a team that travels to other yards to help them improve their submarine repair processes. As far as quality of life for the crews - well, let's just say they don't call it "Rotten Portsmouth." The Portsmouth work-force is professional and motivated; the relationship between the sailors and yard workers is far better than I've seen in the other three yards I've experienced (EB, Mare Island and Puget). The submarine force can't afford to throw Portsmouth to the sharks. The New England Congressional delegation has been aggressive in making this point to senior Navy and DoD decision-makers. In fact, the submarine force can't afford to have any shipyards BRAC'ed. There isn't enough shipyard capacity to handle the current workload, nor what is scheduled for at least the next several years. Reducing capacity even further doesn't make much sense. (Of course, I'm just a dumb nuke, not one of those bright inside-the-Beltway folks). Unfortunately for Portsmouth, being located in the middle of Blue State country when there's a Red State administration in office can't help matters any.

3/31/2005 5:49 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

I agree that Portsmouth does a good job; my point, which I didn't make very well, is that the Sub Force will probably lose one base in order to "share the burden" and Portsmouth is the one that impacts readiness the least. Of course they do things cheaper and better than EB, but General Dynamics contributes to election campaigns, and Connecticut and RI have more votes than New Hampshire and Maine. Absent the threat from China and North Korea (really the only places in the world where we could get involved in a war that we don't start) San Diego, with its few boats, would make sense, but they can't afford to lose a West Coast base, and Groton has too much infrastructure in place. Plus, I'm sure there are some Sailors on the boats who don't mind moving their families to Portsmouth for a year (or geo-baching it) but I never met any...

3/31/2005 9:42 PM

Blogger Lubber's Line said...

BRAC closing Gorton I think is unlikely exactly because of Bubblehead's point about infrastructure. But a couple of negatives with Groton's infrastructure are the Thames River needs dredging and the piers upgrading.

One option if they did close Groton would be to move it to Newport RI. It was done before with the Naval Underwater System Center NUSC in New London. It is now NUWC Naval Underwater Weapons Center Newport, RI and was created in the late 1980’s with the Navy’s consolidation of its research labs.

The Newport Naval Base has the piers and the space no dredging required. Electric Boat’s Quonset facility is right across the bay with the old Essex class Carrier piers. It’s a more direct shot to open ocean from Narragansett Bay than the Thames River. Newport would keep the Navy’s Submarines in the area near the construction and repair facilities while still consolidating bases.

Any move would be extremely costly but also a boom to the recipient economy. Besides I’ll be looking for a job in 6 months because my employer is closing its RI office. Sort of their own BRAC plan called a Corporate merger.

3/31/2005 11:08 PM

Anonymous Pig Boat Sailor said...

I cannot speak to PNSY's overall schedule, only my experience there, and as for Anon's claim that PNSY "meets schedule - generally beating it by several months," I can only point to the La Jolla's refuel and San Juan's refit, both of which ended in 2000. The La Jolla was so horribly behind schedule that the yard yanked workers off the SJ to try and push LJ out of the yard, thus pushing the SJ past her est. departure date as well. A cluster. And as we left, the CoCC was on her way to being in the same boat. Agreed EB avails are not cheap, but I refer to the PNSY gallows humor that the last boat she got out on time prior to 2000 was the Thresher. PNSY might be the lead 688 sy (??), but I know NAVSEA was running most sub installs through Norfolk NSY, rather than having to deal with PNSY. And frankly, as a sailor who was stationed in Groton and got sent up to New Hampshire (Maine, rather) for refit, the only reason we didn't call it Rotten Portsmouth was because it didn't rhyme. Housing was expensive (I lived an hour away in order to afford it), moving the fam was a pain, but the geo-batch option was even more painful, but necessary for the guys who could not afford to live up there, as PNSY has, what, half a dozen family quarters?
I will agree that we cannot afford to lose a SY, even PNSY. We are currently farming refit work out to Warfare Centers because the SY's do not have the capacity to do it all - and, frankly, that is not the best course for the fleet.

4/07/2005 4:03 PM


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