Richard R. Burgess, Seapower
2 March 2016
ARLINGTON, Va. – Congressmen from states in which submarines or their components are built are focusing on the Navy’s and combatant commanders’ stated needs for a strong submarine force.
At a March 2 meeting on Capitol Hill of the Submarine Industrial Base Council, an association of submarine builders and suppliers, lawmakers praised the work of the submarine industry and its role in building the Navy’s submarines.
“Submarine construction is going to be a major part of our effort in Congress,” said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Reed noted the recent testimony of Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander, U.S. Pacific Command, and Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, commander, U.S. European Command, of the need for increased submarine deployments in their respective areas of responsibility.
Praising the 3,600 workers of General Dynamics Electric Boat in Connecticut and Rhode Island, Reed said, “We are giving the men and women who sail these ships the technological edge they need.”
Rep. Joe Courtney, D- Conn., ranking member of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee, noted that the 2017 defense budget proposal showed an 11 percent increase in funding for submarines. He supported the effort to “squeeze another submarine out of the [Virginia-class attack submarine] Block V buy.”
Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., chairman of the seapower and projection forces subcommittee, said that Congress needs to get the topline of the defense budget raised and work to build submarines as efficiently as possible to procure 12 Ohio Replacement ballistic-missile submarines “for the price of 11.”
Forbes’s fellow Virginian, Republican Rep. Rob Wittman, said that the Ohio Replacement program “has to stay on track” in terms of cost, schedule and maturity of the design, but noted the budgetary peril ahead.
“You cannot build or fund Ohio Replacement within the existing budget,” Wittman said.
Addressing the build-up of naval forces by China and Russia, Rep. James Lengevin, D-R.I., said, “The need for submarine forces is not going to decline anytime soon. The sooner they [U.S. submarines] hit the water, the better.”