Austin Wright, Politico
15 March 2016
The Navy this year is reassessing its requirement for Virginia-class attack submarines, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.
"Our current requirement is for 48," Richardson said. "That level I think was established in 2006.
Whether I'm off by a year or two, it was a long time ago, and the security environment has changed a great deal since then. I've commissioned a study to reassess that level this year."
Right now, he said, the Navy is only able to meet 50 to 60 percent of combatant commanders' demand for attack submarines.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, testifying with Richardson, said the Navy was looking for ways to continue building two Virginia-class submarines per year after fiscal 2020, when the service is set to begin buying Ohio-class replacement ballistic missile submarines.
The Navy's current long-term budget blueprint calls for Virginia-class production to drop to one per year at that time.
"We're working on how to get the capability and capacity to do two Virginias and the Ohio class at the same time," Mabus said.