Contact: Josh Holly (HASC), 202-226-3988 Lisa Wright (Bartlett), 202-225-2721
Washington, D.C. – “Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, ladies and gentleman. I’m pleased to be with you today to once again discuss the future submarine force structure and submarine industrial base issues. Nevertheless, I am somewhat disappointed to see that the Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for Fiscal Year 2008, as well as the President’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2008, were submitted to Congress without any changes to the procurement strategy for attack submarines. Last year, we held a hearing very similar to today’s to explore the same three issues:
- “Why does the shipbuilding plan fail to provide a sufficient number of submarines to meet the Navy’s own requirements?
- “Has the Navy and industry exhaustively analyzed all alternative funding strategies to minimize submarine construction costs, in order to address the requirements shortfall sooner?
- “What measures are the Navy and industry taking to ensure we retain the submarine design base, which is nothing short of a national asset?
“After considering the testimony we received, we included language in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act, which would require the Navy to maintain no less than 48 operational attack submarines. In conference, we agreed to change the requirement to an expression of the sense of Congress regarding submarine force structure, to give the Navy an opportunity to re-examine the operational impact associated with delaying the increase in attack submarine construction until 2012 and possible funding alternatives. Since no new course of action has been presented with the budget request, I hope we will be provided with some new perspectives this year, which might allay some of our concerns – particularly in light of events in the Pacific. Last year China launched 14 submarines, while we launched only one. While it is undeniable that China’s diesel submarines do not offer the same capability as our nuclear attack submarines, these trends suggest that the size of the Chinese fleet could surpass the United States Navy’s within a decade and indicate that China’s submarine design base is maturing.
“With that said, I do want to pass kudos to the Navy submarine community for its efforts to reduce cost and deliver on schedule. While it is true that the first hulls delivered by Electric Boat and Newport News were delivered late, the third hull, the Hawaii – Electric Boat’s second delivery – was delivered at the originally scheduled delivery date, and the fourth hull, the North Carolina – Newport News’ second delivery – is also scheduled to deliver on time. Likewise, although the Navy has not seen the labor hour performance it original expected based on a one ship learning curve, it has seen marked progress on a two ship learning curve. In fact, based on predicted labor hours, the Fiscal Year 2008 requested ship, the SSN 783, should be within 20% of the $2.0 billion cost cap mandated for the Fiscal Year 2012 ship. This is promising news! I hope the surface ship community can learn lessons from the submarine acquisition community about how to impose similar cost containment schemes and I hope that industry is using the same kind of rigor on its other shipbuilding contracts.”