The SEA WOLF actions ngording the Administrtllion’s decision for recision of 1M already auJhoriud funding for 1M second and third SEA WOLF class subtntJrinu continued to dominale the news. The resulting pub/icily has focused public attention on the necessity to protect 1M very unique, and vital, indwtrial bast which builds nuclear submarines. It has also focused public attention on the question of need for a Submarine Forrt in the new stcuriJy environment being envisioned by many.
Submarine Force Levels
- Navy News & Undersea Technolo&Y- May 4, 1992. “A pair of senior Pentagon officials last week indicated the number of nuclear attack submarines in the American inventory could slip dramatically in the future.
“Testifying before the House seapower subcommittee, Admiral Frank Kelso ll, Chief of Naval Operations, speculated the number could drop to as low as 50 submarines. The Navy is operating 85 right now, with 13 more under construction.
“The Navy is evaluating the question of future force levels as part of the submarine industrial base study ordered by Defense Secretary Dick Cheney last January when be canceled the SEAWOLF program. ‘We’re starting a study to come to a department decision, and like any study, it will take time,’ Kelso told the subcommittee. The results are expected this summer.
“‘I think it will be in a range of 50 to 60, maybe 65 subma-rines,’ he said. ‘I’ll have to wait and see what the results are. The important point. in my view. is this nation needs to maintain a submarine capability. The size [of the force] 25 or 30 years from now is the important issue.’
“The report is being prepared for Deputy Defense Secretary Donald Atwood. He told Congress last week he doubted the proper submarine force level was anywhere near the current figure.”
SEAWOLF Court Case
- NEW YORK TIMES – March 18, 1992. “In a ruling expected to help shape the U.S. shipbuilding industry through the 1990s, a federal appeals court upheld the Pentagon’s choice of General Dynamics Corp. to build the Navy’s second SEAWOLF subma-rine.
“While the submarine may never in fact be built, the decision is important to the defense industry for what it says about the Pentagon’s long-term role in preserving the industrial base for building sophisticated, nuclear-powered vessels — an issue that has surfaced in some Democratic presidential primaries. A three-judge panel in Richmond, Virginia, concluded that the Pentagon adequately considered economic factors when it awarded the contract last year to the company’s Electric Boat unit in Groton, Conn.”
The recision action, and the reaction of those in Congress, prompted a number of editorial comments, both pro and con, throughout the country. Two of the pros and one of the cons are cited here as examples.
- NEW YORK TIMES – April 21, 1992. “Jobs, jobs, jobs. That’s the rallying cry of defense contractors who want to keep building arms America no longer needs. Regrettably members of Congress, of both parties, are heeding the cry and trying to restore funds for weapons like the SEAWOLF submarine, whose mission sank with the Soviet threat
“The legislators need to look skeptically at the contractor’s job claims. Beyond a brief transition period, the size of the defense budget is unrelated to the unemployment rate. That’s because gains in civilian employment will offset the defense job losses — even in Connecticut and Rhode Island, where much of the work on SEAWOLF is done.
Indeed, defense contractors worry greatly that they will soon have to compete for workers with non-defense industries. This competition will be good news for laid-off defense workers.
“Defense industries now employ about 3.1 million people. Under President Bush’s proposed five-year, $50 billion cut in the defense budget, that will decline by about 900,000 by 1997, according to the Defense Budget Project, a Washington think tank. Cuts of $149 billion over five years would reduce defense jobs by 200,000 more — in a private sector that employs nearly 100 million.”
- Sacramento BEE – May 13, 1992. “Seven weeks ago, President Bush challenged Congress to rescind $5.7 billion worth of spending he described as pork barrel projects exempli-fying lawmakers’ habit of squandering taxpayers dollars. Of the $5.7 billion in savings, half was to come from canceling an earlier appropriation to build a second and third SEAWOLF submarine. Are the decisions by the House, to go ahead with one SEAWOLF, and the Senate, to build both, just another sign of a congressional addiction to spending to preserve jobs for constituents back home?
“But the issue is more than a simple matter of not building a costly submarine whose mission has become a low priority. Submarines are among the most complicated and sophisticated weapons systems. Building them requires skills, machinery and facilities that are not readily available in the civilian economy. H the SEAWOLF is discontinued, the industrial base necessary for future submarine production will be severely disrupted, as shipyards close, skilled workers are laid off and suppliers go out of business.
“The House and Senate certainly bad jobs partly in mind when they decided to build at least one more SEAWOLF. But given the questions about costs and the future of submarine construction, that decision involved a lot more than pork barreling. The SEAWOLF is a difficult call, on which the president has yet to make a convincing case.
- Defense News – May 18, 1992. [By Everett Pyatt). “The SEAWOLF submarine has become many symbols at once. It was the future of the submarine force pitted against a Soviet force that had made significant strides in the last two decades. In the running time of a torpedo, this threat disappeared and the submarine force was caught looking for a mission.
“They launched a few Tomahawks in the Iraqi war for reasons I still do not comprehend, but were then faced with a new and equally stealthy enemy. It was the peace dividend.
“Alliances formed quickly. The rallying call became the industrial mobilization base (jobs in an election year). At first two yards could be involved in the program, but one got so at odds with the customer that it was dropped from the next-generation ship program and found itself in a lawsuit against the customer and the competition.
“It was easy to deduce that only Electric Boat was in consideration to be the submarine yard, so the New England delegation quickly found a cause. The result was a Senate position that includes two submarines and a House position of one.
“Calmer beads must prevail. The root question is whether a minimal submarine construction base is needed in the foreseeable future. Current programs will keep two yards in operation through 1995 and one yard in the late 1990s. During this period, more activities will end starting with machinery fabrication, then hull components, followed by outfitting and test capabilities.
“Restarting any of these capabilities will be difficult and expensive. It cannot be achieved by refueling and maintenance work. It certainly cannot be waved off with a simplistic reconstitution argument as some in the administration have tried.
“If one concludes there is no need for future submarine construction, then current programs should be completed and the facilities shut down. If there is any plan to build additional submarines in the future, then construction capabilities must be maintained. This means the U.S. should start a new SEAWOLF submarine every other year at each facility it wants to retain.”
Everett Pyatt is former assistant secretary of the Navy
for shipbuilding and logistics
SEAWOLF Budget Actions
- Providence Journal- March 29, 1992 “Washington (AP). The Navy is lifting stop-work orders for several components for the second SEAWOLF submarine because paying contractors to finish the units is cheaper than paying termination costs, according to a published report.
“The Day of New London reported in yesterday’s editions that some congressional sources say the Navy’s action supports arguments that building at least the second SEAWOLF nuclear-powered submarine is cost effective.”
- Washin&ton Post -April 10, 1992. “A House subcommittee yesterday approved the restoration of funding for one S2 billion SEAWOLF attack submarine.
“The action by the House Appropriations defense subcom-mittee would reverse part of a budget proposal by President Bush to eliminate funding for two SEAWOLFs that had been approved in previous years by Congress.”
- NEW YORK TIMES – May 1, 1992 “The Senate Appropri-ations Committee voted today to preserve two SEAWOLF submarines President Bush wanted to eliminate but still cut $424 million more in Federal spending than the Administration bad proposed.
“The committee action reflected conflicting trends. Members of Congress are forced to demonstrate support for programs that provide jobs. But they also want to appear to be greater cutters of pork-barrel spending than the President and to back a balanced Federal budget.
“The committee decided to go ahead with constructing the SEAWOLF submarines at a cost of $29 billion by cutting $1.3 billion in Strategic Defense Initiative research and $1 billion in B-2 bomber expenditures instead
“Senator Robert C. Byrd, the West Virginia Democrat who is chairman of the committee, said Mr. Bush ‘threw down the gauntlet’ by proposing the cutbacks and Congress was forced to react.”
- Defense Daily- May 22, 1992 “lbe White House is likely to step away from its opposition to continuing the SSN-21 SEAWOLF submarine program and agree to a Senate-House compromise that would rescue one more of the ships, Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney said yesterday.
“‘Right now, if I had to predict, I would expect the Adminis-tration would support the conference report,’ Cheney told the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. ‘On balance, it does achieve a level of savings we were looking for — it’s a package we can live with.’”
- Wall Street Journal – May 26, “The Pentagon, in its strongest statement yet about protecting critical defense technologies, said it is considering extraordinary steps to help companies building nuclear-powered submarines.
“In a white paper spelling out the military’s new research priorities and procurement rules, Donald Yockey, the Defense Departmenfs acquisition chief, called nuclear-submarine propulsion ‘an essential, unique capability which will be difficult to maintain’ without special federal assistance during a period of shrinking defense budgets. The report released last week indicates that senior Pentagon officials are examining options to ensure that the facilities, suppliers and expertise to build such vessels will be available when needed in the next century, though it doesn’t provide details.
“Echoing this theme, Defense Secretary Dick Cheney said in a speech in New York Friday that the Pentagon may ‘have to make some specialized investments’ to safeguard ‘certain elements of (the) production line’ for future nuclear-powered submarines. Mr Cheney didn’t provide any details either.
- Wall Street Journal – March 27, 1992. “The navy of the Commonwealth of Independent States is trying to barter its way out of a financial and political crisis by selling hundreds of tons of ship-metal scrap and granting business concessions at its major naval bases.
“A delegation of 15 top CIS admirals arrived here this week with a proposal to sell scrap from 79 obsolete nuclear subma-rines, among other vessels, in an effort to raise funds to build houses for 30,000 officers who are being retired from its rapidly shrinking fleet.
“The delegation, believed to be the biggest group of Russian naval leadership ever to visit the U.S., also hopes to get advice from the U.S. Navy on how to destroy the submarines without harming the environment. But so far, they haven’t even been able to get their U.S. Navy counterparts to agree to a meeting.”
- Journal of Commerce- April 23, 1992. “LONDON- The Commonwealth of Independent States bas offered to sell the U.S. Navy a nuclear-powered VICfOR II attack submarine, Jane’s Defense Weekly said.
“The London-based magazine in its April 25 edition said the United States was considering the offer.
“No price was given.
“VICTOR II class submarines are 338 feet long, carry a crew of 100 and can reach 30 knots submerged. Armaments include nuclear missiles with a range of 20 miles and torpedoes with conventional or low-yield nuclear warheads.
“Quoting sources at a naval show in Washington, Jane’s said the commonwealth’s cash shortage was spurring offers of military hardware to the United States.
“It also said U.S. officials were visiting naval research and development centers in the former Soviet Union with the intention of buying anti-submarine technology.
“The magazine said there was a perception the common-wealth’s shallow water anti-submarine warfare sensor technology may be further developed than similar systems in the United States.
“It said there were plans for a joint U.S.-commonwealth conference on shallow water anti·submarine warfare in California in mid·1993.”
- London Financial Times ~ May 19, 1992. “Russia is con-tinuing to build big warships despite funding problems, and its submarine operations have hardly been affected by the dissolu-tion of the Soviet Union, a western naval authority said yesterday.
“Captain Richard Sharpe, editor of Jane’s Fighting Ships, the 1992-93 edition of which was published yesterday, said pro-duction of nuclear missile-carrying submarines had come to a temporary halt last year, but three nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarines and three diesel-powered craft bad been launched.
“He warned that proliferation of submarine expertise was one of the main problems posed by the break-up of the Soviet Union. Iran is said to be interested in buying one or two diesel-powered submarines.
“Of the former Soviet Union’s 24 naval yards, 14 were now under civilian control.
“Captain Sharpe predicted that if this trend continued, Russia would probably have only two major submarine yards, with perhaps another two yards producing large surface vessels and three building minor warships.
“However, at least three of these yards were each equivalent to any other naval yard in the world.”
- Defense News -May 1S..24, 1992. “Washington- A dispute between Russia and Iran over the flagging of two diesel submarines is delaying their delivery to Iran, according to a senior Latvian defense official.
“Valdis Pavlovskis, Latvia’s deputy defense minister, discussed the submarine dispute during a May 12 interview with Defense News at the offices of the U.S. Baltic Foundation, a non-profit institute in Washington.
“Two Russian KILO-class diesel submarines were to have been dispatched from a Russian naval base in the Latvian port of Riga to Iran on April 29, said Pavlovskis. The Iranians had purchased the submarines and their crews were training in Riga.
“The Iranians wanted the submarines to be Russian-flagged on their voyage to Iran, he said. The Russians have refused and the issue is deadlocked. Pavlovskis left Latvia April 29 and at that time neither the submarines nor their crews had departed, he said. Pavlovskis said he did not know why the Russians refused to deliver the vessels under Russian flags.”
- Inside the Pentagon – June 4, 1992. “A top CIS military official says the CIS Navy intends to scrap 150 nuclear-powered submarines by the year 2000, which would drive their nuclear submarine force to a· numerical level comparable to the U.S. Navy. While details are vague, observers say the plan has important implications for the U.S. submarine fleet, which long justified its existence on the presence of a large and growing Soviet threat. They say Navy leaders will be hard pressed to defend maintaining an attack submarine force of more than 40 or 50 boats if the Commonwealth of Independent States can scrap the submarines as planned.
”The announcement of CIS intentions was made last month by Admiral Vitale Zaitsev, deputy commander in chief of the CIS navy for operations and overhaul. Zaitsev said the CIS
plans to ‘scrap totally’ 150 nuclear submarines by the year 2000. This includes both ballistic missile submarines and multipurpose and attack submarines. Zaitsev had been part of a CIS delegation that came to the United States seeking help from the U.S. Navy and industry in scrapping the submarines and disposing of the nuclear waste. The CIS representatives said the plan to scrap 150 submarines has the full support of Russian President Boris Yeltsin.”
Other Submarine News
- Navy Times – March 30, 1992. “KETCHIKAN, Alaska -A nuclear-powered ·attack submarine in early March glided through Southeast Alaska’s frigid waters in the first trial of the Navy’s $50 million sound-testing center at Back Island.
“The USS NEW YORK CITY, a LOS ANGELES class submarine, cruised back and forth for three days over a fiber-optic cable on the floor of western Behm Canal, about 15 miles north of Ketchikan in the Inside Passage.
“The cable transmits noise from the testing grounds to the nearby Southeast Alaska Acoustic Measurement Facility, where Navy scientists monitor the results.
“The center is still working out some bugs with the first test, said Chuck Henson, director for the Naval Strategic Warfare Center in Bremerton, Wash., which oversees the Back Island operation.
“The Navy says the center, built to test the stealthy new SEAWOLF attack submarines, will initially test the LOS ANGELES-and TRIDENT-class submarines.”
- Jane’s Defense Weekly – March 21, “The Thyssen Nordseewerke (TNSW) shipyard in Emden, Germany, is to start sea trials early next year with a closed cycle diesel (CCD) air independent propulsion (AlP) developed by UK company CDSS. nAir independent propulsion is a general term used for non-nuclear power sources for conventional submarines, allowing them to remain submerged for long periods without having to schnorkel when running their diesel engines to recharge the batteries.
“The CCD is being installed in the type 205 submarine U-1 in the submarine assembly hall at TNSW. The boat is to be re-launched late this year.”