Opening Statement of Ranking Member Roscoe Bartlett

Feb 28, 2007
Press Release

Contact: Josh Holly (HASC), 202-226-3988                                    Lisa Wright (Bartlett), 202-225-2721

Washington, D.C. – “It’s a pleasure to be here with you today to learn more about the conclusions and recommendations of the alternative propulsion study conducted by the Navy over the last fiscal year.  For some time, I have been an advocate for the use of nuclear propulsion for not only aircraft carriers and submarines, but for a range of surface ships, as well. 

“I see a number of benefits, not the least of which is that such a move would be a major step towards reducing the military’s dependence on fossil fuels.  There is an overarching national imperative for the United States to reduce its demand for oil, given the limited quantities of this resource over the long-term, the strategic implications of importing oil from foreign nations, and the environmental consequences of burning fossil fuels. 

“Yet, I can conceive of few greater improvements to mobility and warfighting capability, than a military which is not restricted by its refueling supply chain.  Can you imagine a military like that?  A Navy that can get anywhere quickly, because it does not need to stop and refuel?  A Navy that can save significant investment in oilers and their associated manning?  A Navy that is not vulnerable as its ships refuel?  That’s what I would call a disruptive technology.

“Therefore, I would like to learn more about the report provided to Congress last month.  The study concludes that the break-even cost for nuclear and fossil fueled versions of surface vessels are $210 per barrel of diesel marine fuel for large-deck amphibious assault ships and $70 per barrel for medium surface combatants.  It would appear that the calculus is nearly there for surface combatants.  I hope today’s witnesses will discuss how these findings are being incorporated into the on-going analysis of alternatives for the next generation cruiser. 

“I also hope the witnesses can elaborate on the differences between these findings and those of the 2005 Quick Look Analysis performed by Naval Reactors.  In that study, the break-even costs were inverted – the break-even cost for large-deck amphibious assault ships was $80 per barrel and the break-even cost for a large surface combatant was $205 per barrel. 

“Lastly, I would like to explore some of the assumptions underlying the study.  For example, how was the fully burdened cost of delivery of fuel to the ship accounted and how were qualitative benefits, such as increased mobility and power delivery for weapons systems factored into this analysis?

“With that, I’d like to conclude by thanking our witnesses for their service to our nation and for being here with us today.  I truly look forward to your testimony.”