1. The US Navy is investigating the prospect of building three new Virginia-class attack submarines per year instead of two in order to boost the size of the fleet as more Los Angeles-class submarines retire.
In total, the Navy will have 71 submarines in 2016, including 14 nuclear-armed Ohio-class submarines, or SSBNs; four Ohio-class submarines converted to conventionally armed guided-missile boats, or SSGNs; Los Angeles-class fast attack submarines, or SSNs; three Sea Wolf submarines and 11 Virginia-class submarines, also SSNs.
Even though the Navy is currently producing two new Virginia-class attack submarines each year, an anticipated shortfall of submarines is expected to grow worse in coming years as more Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarines retire at a faster pace than Virginia subs are added. Senior Navy leaders have suggested that the service may delay retirement of some Los Angeles-class boats.
“We are going to drop below the minimum requirement of 48 (attack submarines) even with the two per year build rate”.
The Virginia-class attack submarine inventory will drop to 41 in 2029, according to the Navy’s recently released 2016 30-year shipbuilding plan. Ultimately, the plan calls for a fleet of 50 Virginia-class submarines by the mid-2040s.
Congress plans to add money into a special fund established this year for the purpose of paying for the Navy’s next-generation, nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines, the Ohio Replacement Program.
Slated to serve through 2085, the Ohio Replacement program, the nuclear submarine is scheduled to begin construction by 2021. Requirements work, technical specifications and early prototyping have already been underway at General Dynamics Electric Boat.
Designed to be 560-feet–long and house 16 Trident II D5 missiles fired from 44-foot-long missile tubes, Ohio Replacement submarines will be engineered as a stealthy, high-tech nuclear deterrent.
Production for the lead ship in a planned fleet of 12 Ohio Replacement submarines is expected to cost $12.4 billion — $4.8 billion in non-recurring engineering or development costs and $7.6 billion in ship construction, the plan states.
The Navy hopes to build Ohio Replacement submarine numbers two through 12 for $4.9 billion each.
Detailed design for the first Ohio Replacement Program is slated for 2017.
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