VADM Munns vs. Navy Brass?
For those not glued to the all-Michael news outlets (all media, basically) Newsday has a report on the congressional hearings held today in Groton. The big news for me is VADM Munns, ComNavSubFor, seemingly contradicting earlier policy statements from Big Navy on future submarine numbers:
"The Navy's top submarine commander warned Monday against reducing the size of the nation's sub fleet, saying there are already more missions than submarines to complete them. "Testifying before a House Armed Service subcommittee, Vice Adm. Charles L. Munns said current shipbuilding projections, which suggest a sub force 25 to 40 percent smaller that today's fleet, put the nation at risk."
..."Munns said the current fleet size should be maintained, an opinion the Navy doesn't share, according to its most recent shipbuilding projections. Those projections, submitted to Congress, predict a fleet of 41 to 45 submarines. President Bush and congressional leaders expect to build one Virginia-class submarine a year until 2011. Navy officials said this shipbuilding plan won't keep up with the decommissioning of Los Angeles-class submarines.
"No one is comfortable with that," Munns said. "That's not a risk that anyone thinks we should take."
Should be interesting to see how this turns out. My personal opinion is that they'll stay at the 1 boat per year buy rate until about 2010, and then "project" two a year after that; it means absolutely nothing (they've been projecting 2 or more per year four years out for the last 6 years) but it'll put Congress on record as supporting a bigger sub fleet in general.
Oh, and for the Jackson verdict: he'll be acquitted on everything except for maybe the alcohol charges; after all, he's a celebrity in California, and there's no videotape of him committing the crime.
Update 1120 14 June: Here's a good report on the hearings from The New London Day. Excerpts:
"In response to questions from subcommittee members, Munns made the point several times that the fleet needs at least 54 submarines. At one point, when he discussed the most-needed future capabilities, he listed as the No. 2 priority the ability to “connect” submarines to the rest of the fleet with better communications, and No. 3 to expand the use of off-board and autonomous sensors and weapons.
"His top priority? “A sufficient number of hulls,” he said.
"Members seemed surprised when he responded negatively to a question from Simmons, the vice chairman, as to whether he had “signed off” on the official Navy plan for 37 boats.
“No one is comfortable with that,” Munns said. “It's more risk than any of us think we can take.” "Simmons questioned whether the study has any credibility if the admiral in charge of keeping submarines ready to deploy has not endorsed it. “I'd like to know that our senior submariners are involved in that decision,” he said. “I think it's absolutely a requirement.”