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.)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Submarine Funding

Yesterday was Submarine Day at the House Armed Services Committee; some stories about the testimony given by RADM Breckenridge (N87) and RADM Johnson (PEO SUBS) are here and here. Highlight:
“With the accelerated retirement of Los Angeles-class submarines, our nation will drop below the 48-boat goal starting in 2025,” said Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., chairman of the HASC Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces. “We need to ensure strategy drives our budget and that we give a voice to our combatant commanders. We need to be sure that we provide them with every resource.”
The Navy’s current fleet of 55 attack submarines, or SSNs, will drop down to 42, Rear Adm. Richard Breckenridge, director of undersea warfare said in written testimony . Four guided missile submarines, or SSGNs, will retire and the Navy’s current fleet of 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, or SSBNs, will drop to 10, Breckenridge wrote.
“The total submarine force will drop from 73 to 52 ships — a cut of 29 percent – before rebounding in the 2030s. The vertical strike payload volume provided by the undersea force will drop by well over half. This trough is borne of the submarine shipbuilding hiatus of the 1990s, and no realistic build plan could now prevent it,” said Breckenridge.
Other discussion centered on how the Navy was basically assuming Congress would come up for the money for the Government-Furnished Equipment (GFE) for new submarines in time, rather than paying for it up front.

Where do you see the Submarine Funding wars going? Are we Congress will generate more funding to be able to stay above the 45 boat threshold, or will we actually bottom out at 42?

37 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Difficult to see any way to avoid bottoming out at the current projection. The main emphasis needs to be on securing additional funding for SSBN(X) outside of the main shipbuilding budget. Also, I was interested to see that some of the hesitancy about the Virginia Payload Module isn't just about the cost, but also the possibility of destabilizing the build pipeline.

9/13/2013 4:15 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good thing these naysayers were not in charge of shipbuilding following Pearl Harbor....."sorry about that but nothing can be done to rebuild the Pacific fleet for another 15 years or so..."

9/13/2013 4:56 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good thing these naysayers were not in charge of shipbuilding following Pearl Harbor....."sorry about that but nothing can be done to rebuild the Pacific fleet for another 15 years or so..."

So you're going to compare the period right after the country got attacked with the present day? Peacetime and mostly made up "missions".

Congratulations! No matter what else is said in this thread, yours will be the stupidest fucking thing posted.

9/13/2013 5:31 PM

 
Anonymous RidX said...

They really need to work on getting the price of the SSBN(X) down; there's lots of folks out there who would like to see it go away. Treating it like a sacred cow is foolhardy; all it takes is a stroke of a pen and our nuclear weapons triad could be reduced to ICBMs only. As there is currently no player with the ability to wipe out all of our land- and air-based retaliatory capability, the need for sea-based second strike capability is called into question. It's not far-fetched.

9/13/2013 5:45 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If submariners took better care of the boats there would be more of them today and tomorrow. The battle is half lost when the reference is made to the needs of the COCOM. Each could say they have a 1.0 presence requirement and then where would the need be for the rest of submarine fleet? If submarine tasking comes from echelons above COCOM I trust somebody rushed to point that out to the committee. That last might be the key problem here. If the biggest consumer of the navy ships is getting tasked from outside the navy, that guy better have deep pockets and speak up because few in the navy will.

9/13/2013 6:46 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good thing these naysayers were not in charge of shipbuilding following Pearl Harbor....."sorry about that but nothing can be done to rebuild the Pacific fleet for another 15 years or so..."

This is not a good comparison. Early ships in 1941 didn't even have RADAR; ships today are loaded with every piece of new age technology at a bloated price because we shifted our warfare acquisition strategy from mass-producing cheap ships and vehicles to counter the current threat to having fewer high tech, expensive jack-of-all trades ships that can counter any perceived threat for the next 20 years.

If WWIII broke out tomorrow and our ships were actually being sunk, we would probably build a ton of diesel submarines and probably start recommissioning conventional CV's because it's way too expensive and takes way too long to build ships with nuclear reactors on them, and then there's the crew that has to be trained to operate it.

Back to the subject at hand: I think the submarine Admirals have their work cut out for them to prove to Congress that there's a real need for more SSNs.

9/13/2013 6:56 PM

 
Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

Everything I have read indicates that Congress understands the necessity and the capabilities of the SSN. A recent report of the Congressional Research Office even proposed building three submarines a year if funding was available. There also seems to be a will to build the follow-on SSBN but there is sticker shock to the current price. Separating that funding into some sort of strategic "bucket" instead of the normal shipbuilding "bucket" may be the best answer to keep up construction of other necessary vessels. It will not be easy.

9/13/2013 7:25 PM

 
Anonymous RidX said...

Re: Relevance of SSNs. One cheap diesel sub in the hands of an adversary can completely obliterate war plans involving billions of dollars of surface warships. It doesn't even have to do anything; all it has to do is hide. Don't think it's a credible threat? Are you willing to bet a carrier on that? That's why we have SSNs.

9/13/2013 7:52 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't think it's a credible threat? Are you willing to bet a carrier on that? That's why we have SSNs.

We have P3s/P8s, DDGs, FFGs, and SH-60R/S for ASW.

In fact, in WWII the U.S. didn't use its submarine force to primarily hunt U-boats; it used the submarine force to primarily attack Japanese convoys and their success in the campaign was as much due to Japanese stubborness and military dysfunction as it was due to U.S. submarining expertise -- the Japanese never quite figured out how to counter the ASW threat like the British did (and we were pretty slow to the draw, too, because FADM King's solution was essentially that we were going to suffer a lot of losses until convoy ASW screening ships could be built and the Army said fuck no we're not giving you planes to do coastal ASW).

So if history is any lesson, it shows that the U.S. does not need an SSN fleet to neutralize a superior (or inferior) ASW threat. Not by a longshot.

Also, you're implying that the same cheap, quiet diesel sub also can't wreak havoc on the expensive SSN subs, especially as AIP gets to be more prominent.

In peacetime, the SSN fleet is good for keeping tabs on other country's SSBNs (not a whole lot of those guys in service compared to our SSNs) and doing littoral ops. They can also be used to conduct a more covert strike mission than a DDG/CG, if that need arises, but as far as I can tell U.S. subs have only done strike missions as part of a show-and-tell; any surface asset could have done the same thing.

In wartime, they're good for sinking said SSBNs and committing what is now considered to be war crimes.

9/13/2013 9:48 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many UUVs can you buy for $2 billion dollars?

9/14/2013 12:42 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have P3s/P8s, DDGs, FFGs, and SH-60R/S for ASW.

Yes we do. Have you ever played the red force against them? I think you give them too much credit. It's not that they're not proficient, it is just an exceptionally difficult job for which SSNs are particularly well suited. Also, I'm skeptical that DDGs and FFGs would be employed aggressively enough against a real submarine threat to be effective, but I'll admit that I'm talking out of my ass now and am beyond experience level on that point.

So if history is any lesson, it shows that the U.S. does not need an SSN fleet to neutralize a superior (or inferior) ASW threat.
Not sure what WWII has to do with modern ASW; completely different capabilities and mission.

Also, you're implying that the same cheap, quiet diesel sub also can't wreak havoc on the expensive SSN subs, especially as AIP gets to be more prominent.
...no comment.

They can also be used to conduct a more covert strike mission than a DDG/CG, if that need arises, but as far as I can tell U.S. subs have only done strike missions as part of a show-and-tell; any surface asset could have done the same thing.

Agreed, however show-and-tell is a mission in itself. Certain knowledge that there may or may not be hundreds of TLAMs off your coast just waiting for the order and nothing you can do about it has potential to steer the behavior of problematic actors... although recent events kinda undermine this argument.

ASW is the core competency of the SSN. Volume I, Chapter I, Verse I of the SSM. You sound like you know what you're talking about and I'd like to carry this on, but I think we're gonna hit an OPSEC wall pretty fast...

9/14/2013 1:47 AM

 
Anonymous 4-Stop said...

Were N97 now, CNO gave us a realignment in 2012. The brief about the shortcoming of subs has been around since 2008 unofficialy and 2009 at the USBOD officially, hence the Birth of the VPM. This same brief has been given to the government every year for the past 5 years and still no funding for the project. The Navy has tasked EB and PMS 450 with providing a platform to replace the reduction in strike capability while not precluding the ability to carry out future missions for the life of the BLK V platforms all for about 250 million. The elected assholes......er......officials have delayed the start of this program to the point where ORP and VPM are not able to be common and save money. This is not a democrat or republican thing this is a political SNAFU that will cost the American taxpayer in the long run. I will make my E-Ring tour my twilight tour as drinking kool-aid is not in my swim lane. For all the R-tards that think the submarine force doesn't have a real mission and that we make this stuff up to keep busy please identify yourself to me at our daily briefings with the ADM and we can chat. As for the GFE thing we are already slashing FY14 items like TI-14/ APB13. So we are breaking our promise to fix the things that need to be fixed for the warfighter. Shame on us, Big Navy, for not fixing this.

9/14/2013 1:07 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For all the R-tards that think the submarine force doesn't have a real mission and that we make this stuff up to keep busy please identify yourself to me at our daily briefings with the ADM and we can chat.

I don't think anyone is saying the SSN force has NO mission and that SSNs ought to be nixed entirely. Rather, the discussion is over how many is enough? You can't say with a straight face that there aren't more than a few deployments where nothing of value gets accomplished other than being there just in case. And if the 'just in case' is to do tactical ASW against a potential adversary who will start with a submarine force that is less than half of our SSNs, and we also have a half dozen other ways to do ASW in the Navy, then you're not making a good case for having over 50 SSNs. And certainly not when they rack up hundreds of millions in repair bills from 'chipping paint' every year.

There are always gremlins in the closet and a reason why every organization in the DoD needs more money for their projects. If the same brief is falling on deaf ears for 4-5 years, maybe it's just not a convincing argument.

As for the GFE thing we are already slashing FY14 items like TI-14/ APB13.

How about holding the R-tards that released the unreliable POS that is TI-06/APB-07 accountable?

I don't need to update my OS on my computer every other year to be competitive in the business world, why do we keep paying for broken CCS software? A robust, properly functioning CCS can last more than two years, but one that locks up every other watch shouldn't have ever made it past QA testing.

9/14/2013 9:47 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had a boat-load (pun intended) of boats in the late 80's and our Op-tempo SUCKED - at least on the left coast. Can't imagine what it must be today.

And yes, I realize we were playing Cold War games with a large Russian fleet and kicking off Desert Shield/Storm preps, but we weren't actually meddling in sovereign state's internal affairs all over the globe.

9/15/2013 9:09 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really think that OPTEMPO is going to convince politicians to fork over billions of dollars for more submarines? You really think that the amount of work a Sailor does is anywhere in their decision tree? Do you think that they have any concept of what conditions are like for a servicemember on an operational tour?

If they thought any of that, they wouldn't be trying to lower BAH and lower the cost of living raise below CPI to servicemembers next calendar year to pinch a few pennies out of this supposed austerity budget that cuts 2% of the INCREASE in funds which somehow manages to threaten to shutdown the entire federal government every goddamn October.

Besides, it's the USMC and USA that are getting blown to bits in the sand via international interventionism, not the submarine force (minus IAs).

9/15/2013 10:29 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The total submarine force will drop from 73 to 52 ships — a cut of 29 percent – before rebounding in the 2030s."

A lot of people whistling past the graveyard hoping and praying that nothing bad happens between 2013 and sometime in the magical 2030's when the number of submarines "rebounds".

I strongly suspect that something bad is going to happen in the next decade and a half that will make us wish we had more submarines.

I could be wrong....I hope I am wrong...but I doubt it.

9/15/2013 12:17 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

References and arguments here (by our no-doubt skimmer brethren) that unrestricted submarine warfare is a "war crime" were made ridiculous even just shortly after they were invented in the London Naval Treaty of October 1930. Actual, real-world submarine warfare became defined in WWI, much less WWII.

International law is largely international "convention" -- if some particular behavior (or prohibition) is by tradition adhered to by a number of naval nations, then it becomes "international law" in a de facto sort of way.

"Prize rules" (you'll have to look that one up, it's so absurdly out-of-date) are something skimmers may spend a good deal of their time thinking about while flitting along the surface of the ocean, but submarines threw skimmer ideas like that out the window just as readily as the early American patriots tossed out the idea of lining up neatly in bright red coats before using firearms in warfare.

From a historical perspective, it's entirely likely -- and certainly arguable -- that the nuclear submarine has yet to really enter its heyday. Their obvious survivability and utility will, in my humble opinion, likely only become fully realized in WWIII...whenever and wherever that is.

This is a difficult concept only to those who wear crossed swords on their chest, with imaginings of clashing cutlery while swinging around for another volley from the musket cannon. Even a politician can understand the value of a nuclear submarine to an island nation such as the United States of America.

9/15/2013 1:38 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They didn't throw prize rules out the window for submariners in WWII - they became the unofficial medal policy. Skippers would get a slate of valor awards to give out to their crews depending on the success of each patrol. This went up to and including the Navy Cross.

9/15/2013 8:27 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think 42 is more likely than 45 as an SSN low count, and that any return to 48 is unlikely. I sure hope there are folks at OPNAV asking, what if "Alt POM" turns out to be a best-case scenario rather than the worst-case? That's the scenario I see unfolding and I'm not confident that all of the GO/FOs are able to face the ugliness in time to lead the Services through this mess.

9/15/2013 8:58 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tough to have a conversation if we're not talking about the same thing.

Reference: <a href='http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prize_rules">Prize Rules</a> (Wikipedia)

9/15/2013 9:48 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more time...

Reference: Prize Rules (Wikipedia)

9/15/2013 9:49 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I strongly suspect that something bad is going to happen in the next decade and a half that will make us wish we had more submarines"

Has anything happened in the last 15 years that made you wish we had more submarines, or even came close to utilizing the ones we have?

You have to go back to the early '90s to get to a time when all that shit seemed like it was being put to good use in any way.... Why would the next 17 years be any different than the last 22?

9/16/2013 4:44 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


"Agreed, however show-and-tell is a mission in itself. Certain knowledge that there may or may not be hundreds of TLAMs off your coast just waiting for the order and nothing you can do about it has potential to steer the behavior of problematic actors... although recent events kinda undermine this argument. "

Name one thing in this century where submarines were uniquely necessary in causing a competitive country to think twice.

We have a whole bunch of things that can shoot a shit ton of tomahawks into nearly any country at will... Most of them sit on the surface. For most of the countries we care about, the SSGN is no more or less scary than a DDG, because nobody else can do anything about it.

9/16/2013 4:48 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IRT to last comment -

Conqueror, commanded by Commander Chris Wreford-Brown, was most famously deployed during the Falklands War, setting sail from Faslane Naval Base on the Gare Loch in Scotland on 3 April 1982, one day after the Argentine invasion. Conqueror arrived in the exclusion zone around the Falkland Islands twenty-one days later and was ordered to scan the area for Argentine shipping, particularly the aircraft carrier Veinticinco de Mayo ("25th of May"). On 30 April, she spotted the Argentine light cruiser General Belgrano sailing southwest of the Falklands, just outside the exclusion zone imposed by the British on all shipping. With Veinticinco de Mayo approaching the islands from the north, the commander of the British Taskforce, Admiral 'Sandy' Woodward, feared a pincer attack, with Belgrano attacking from the south and Veinticinco de Mayo from the north and requested permission from the British government to sink the Belgrano. After some debate, permission to engage Belgrano was sent to the submarine from the Royal Navy's fleet command centre in Northwood in the United Kingdom. In the intervening time Belgrano had retired from its attack position and turned west since the Veinticinco de Mayo was not yet ready to engage the British fleet. This later caused some controversy; see Controversy over the sinking, although Belgrano's captain and the Argentine government later acknowledged that the attack was a legitimate act of war.

On 2 May Conqueror became the first nuclear-powered submarine to fire in anger launching three Mark 8 torpedoes at Belgrano,[note 2] two of which struck the ship and exploded. Twenty minutes later, the ship was sinking rapidly and was abandoned by her crew. General Belgrano was unable to issue a Mayday signal because of electrical failure; this and poor visibility meant the two escorting destroyers were unaware of the sinking until some hours later. A total of 323 men were killed. Adding to the confusion, the crew of the ARA Bouchard felt an impact that was possibly the third torpedo striking at the end of its run (an examination of the ship later showed an impact mark consistent with a torpedo). The two ships continued on their course westward and began dropping depth charges. By the time the ships realised that something had happened to the Belgrano, it was already dark and the weather had worsened, scattering the life rafts.
Conqueror's war did not end there. The crew of the submarine had to face Argentine Air Force attempts to locate her in the days after the attack, which had shocked the Argentine people and ruling dictatorship.[citation needed] Conqueror did not fire again in anger throughout the war, but provided valuable help to the task force by using sophisticated monitoring equipment to track Argentine aircraft departing the mainland.

After the war, Conqueror returned to Faslane, flying a Jolly Roger adorned with torpedoes, a customary act of Royal Navy submarines after a kill. When asked about the incident later, Commander Wreford-Brown responded, "The Royal Navy spent thirteen years preparing me for such an occasion. It would have been regarded as extremely dreary if I had fouled it up"

9/16/2013 5:57 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool story, but an SSN sinking ships one time since conception does not make a good case for needing over 50 or even 42.

9/16/2013 8:56 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Name one thing in this century where submarines were uniquely necessary in causing a competitive country to think twice.

Now there's a real horse's ass statement if there ever was one.

You have no idea what you're talking about, and really should just stick to your knitting in skimmer land. Those who deserve & need to know what impact submarines have had for our nation do. You...do not.

Dismissed.

9/16/2013 9:05 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's interesting is the issue being debated is merely the number of submarines, not that we may have an unsustainable model for manning/deploying the submarine force in the light of future fiscal environments. Singe crew SSBN's is not being discussed. Different crew options for SSN's that could maximize time on station are not being discussed. No significant changes to the deployment/overhaul cycle. Does anyone know of alternative models that are being explored? What is a sad truth is that although subs are very expensive, it biggest fixed cost the Navy faces is manpower, and the sub force already has a leg up on the surface fleet in manpower/asset ratio, which is why our cuts aren't as deep.

9/16/2013 9:12 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And in other news today, our President dazzled us once again; showing how, during an horrific act in his very community - he could be Presidential, a leader, non-partisan, and remain above the fray...actually, not so much.

9/16/2013 9:37 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also: RS Tomsk is on fire in the yards. Looks like hot work is the cause.

9/16/2013 10:27 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would point out that the Falklands war was not *this* century.

I specifically meant in the last 13.75 years.

9/16/2013 11:21 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting article from a former CMC.
http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/lower-9th-ward-conservative/2013/sep/15/are-todays-senior-military-officers-being-promoted/

9/17/2013 5:58 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Singe crew SSBN's is not being discussed. Different crew options for SSN's that could maximize time on station are not being discussed. No significant changes to the deployment/overhaul cycle. Does anyone know of alternative models that are being explored?

They probably are at the O-6+ level. You'll never hear about it, though.

What I also hope is being discussed is our philosophy that more red tape is good, CO's are too afraid to sign off of permission on stuff the day before so you waste 30-60 minutes getting him on the phone x2-4 per day, slow is fast, and you have to brief-walkthrough-certify every simple little thing. There's only one SDO/EDO and one DCPO/EDPO, and the EDPO can't be in maneuvering for a brief and supervise evolutions at the same time. We can't afford to keep ships in availabilities longer because of this stupid stuff that can be easily streamlined with no added risk.

9/17/2013 8:25 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting article from a former CMC.
http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/lower-9th-ward-conservative/2013/sep/15/are-todays-senior-military-officers-being-promoted/


We're still feeling the backlash from Gen MacArthur 60 years later.

He was America's last great military leader.

9/17/2013 8:27 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not only the number of boats but the supply of Sailors to crew them that should be a concern. They don't get produced overnight, at least not the good and we must have good ones. The 90 were cruel to us. So many boats went away because there were other objectives the nation wanted to pursue. Probably a good decision to DECOMM the ones we did. not because they were old or worn out, but because the cost to maintain was diverted to other areas. Left with operating subs that were not maintained or putting them down, that's not a hard decision to have to make. It was the maintenance philosophy that killed us back then (mid to late 90's). I find it hard to even comprehend that we would not establish and defend to the end an SSN build rate that keeps the numbers where we need them to be to defend ourselves without question. How many we have will directly impact what things we get involved with. One thing I have learned over the past couple of years is that surface combatants are not nearly as good a deal as are submarines.

9/20/2013 11:15 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was the maintenance philosophy that killed us back then (mid to late 90's).



I was on a boat during this time period. What was different about the maintenance then, compared to now, or with maintenance previous to that time period ? I'm curious. Thanks.

9/20/2013 11:04 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Specifically, the deferral of depot level maintenance. The dry docking's and the work that was to have gone on in them. Structural stuff.

9/23/2013 1:19 PM

 
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10/07/2013 5:26 AM

 

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