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.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

More Skimmer Nukes In The Future?

As it is now, about half of all students going through the enlisted Nuclear Power Training pipeline get assigned to surface ships (meaning carriers) -- all non-submarine volunteers, all women, and even a few Nukes who volunteer for submarine duty. If the Navy goes the direction the Congress wants in the 2008 Defense Authorization bill, there might be even more submarine volunteers getting pressed into skimmer duty:
House and Senate lawmakers are requiring the Navy to power its future classes of cruisers with nuclear reactors, unless the service decides that doing so isn't "in the national interest." This somewhat muddled provision is contained in the recently released fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill.
The provision states that all new ship classes of submarines, aircraft carriers and cruisers should be built with nuclear power plants. Since the Navy's plans for submarines and carriers already include nuclear propulsion, the provision would most directly affect the service's next-generation cruiser, designated CG(X). If nuclear powered, the service's designation for the ship would be CGN(X).
The Navy plans to award the contract for the lead ship of the CG(X) class of cruisers in 2011, at an estimated cost of $3.2 billion, and 18 more by 2023. Because of the long lead times needed to order nuclear components, procurement funds for the proposed cruiser's nuclear power plant would have to be included in the 2009 budget, currently being drafted by the Defense Department.
But if the Navy prefers to equip its future cruisers with conventional power, it does have an out. The measure states that with the budget request for the CG(X), the Defense secretary can submit a notification that "inclusion of an integrated nuclear power system is not in the national interest."
Nuclear-powered cruisers make sense on a lot of levels (especially considering the cost of oil) but it'll require a lot more Nukes in the Navy -- which means bigger re-enlistment bonuses for those who are already in. Everyone wins! (Still, the odds that the Navy won't exercise the "national interest" provision to opt out of CGNs are fairly low.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the Navy was willing to reclassify the Ticonderoga class to cruisers from destroyers, they could just as easily build another class of (larger, more capable, cruiser-like) DDGs alongside the Zumwalt class.

12/18/2007 8:27 PM

Anonymous quotecritter said...

All the advantages are there. If you look at the total life cycle cost for the Kennedy compared to similar age nuclear carriers I would imagine the nuclear ones would win hands down.

In general it allows reduction of fuel storage tanks and gives the advantage of holding station and having simpler unrep situations and lower the total conventional fuel consumption by the task group.

The only good reason to maintain the tanks on a nuclear cruiser is as a backup supply for conventional escorts if normal tankers are delayed or diverted from scheduled tasks.

12/18/2007 9:57 PM

Blogger Deep Six said...

As messed up as the Navy's ship acq program is (re: LCS) it will take a LONG time for something like this to happen . . .

12/19/2007 11:47 AM

Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

It might also be a forward deployment issue. NAS Jacksonville, Mayport, etc. are non-nuclear homeports. I'm not sure that it would make sense to either convert the CG homeport locations to nuclear homeports, or to shift all "18 + 1" CGN(X) to the standard San Diego, Pearl, Norfolk route....

12/19/2007 12:06 PM

Blogger Patrick said...

It would be a big forward deployment issue. Have you ever compared your list of port calls on an SSN to the list of your conventional counterpart on a DDG or CG? There are lots of places they couldn't tie up to the pier. Of course, they could always anchor out... always fun for the Engineers

12/19/2007 3:19 PM

Blogger H. S. Normal said...

Request further elaboration on 'it makes sense on all levels'. I can think of at least one level where it might not make sense - manning costs.

12/19/2007 3:51 PM

Anonymous quotecritter said...


Mayport is doing all the environmental impact stuff which will take a couple of years.

Shore power to the piers have already been upgraded to handle nuke carriers and plans are already in the works for the radiological control/waste disposal facility.

It's in the works but the red tape will by estimates take 5 to 6 years.

Many want it including the Navy to not have all their birdfarms stuck in one place on the east coast.

12/19/2007 10:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

time to start buying that lockheed stock....

12/19/2007 11:02 PM

Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

I believe that the stock ticker that you're looking for is NOC

12/20/2007 2:50 PM


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