We, the leaders of the Naval Submarine League, an organization dedicated to support and promote the United States Submarine Force, believe that the New Attack Submarine (NSSN) is the right ship at the right time. The NSSN design achieves the proper balance between affordability and capability, maintains a critical mass in the intellectual base, and most important, gets needed capability to sea.
In recent years the undersea challenge has steadily increased while U.S. submarine construction has stalled and our submarine force structure has declined dramatically. Russia continues to develop advanced submarines and has about a half dozen submarines at sea today as quiet as our newest Improved 688s. The quieter follow-on to the AKULA, the SEVERODVINSK, will become operational by the year 2000. The U.S. degree of undersea superiority has decreased to an alarmingly narrow margin versus our most capable competitor. Concurrent with Russian undersea advances, modem diesel submarines have improved and proliferated. Meanwhile, operations in the littoral regions have emerged as a major mission of the modem nuclear submarine.
Our nuclear powered attack submarines are multi-purpose warships that are flexible-able to transit at high speeds independent of weather and sea state, virtually unlimited in endurance, possess an impressive offensive payload, including precision land attack missiles, and, above all else, are the most survivable platforms in the U.S. inventory.
6 May 1996
Dear Admiral Smith:
Thank you for your letter and white paper on New Attack Submarine. A copy has been forwarded to John Douglass, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition). I share your concerns with submarine construction in bridging the gap from the 688 class to the New Attack Submarine. We have many challenges ahead, including the introduction of competition into the construction plan, but I am convinced that Navy will get the most capable submarine platform going into the 21st century.
As you are aware, my staff prepared a report to Congress, signed by Dr. Kaminski, which discussed the development and demonstration of new technologies that should result in an increasingly capable class of submarines. In addition, Vice Admiral Al Baciocco, USN(Ret.) just completed an independent panel evaluation of submarine technologies. His findings concluded that there are no revolutionary technological advances on the near horizon which would justify a delay in proceeding with the New Attack Submarine or warrant radically changing its design. I also agree with his conclusions that the design accommodates sufficient room for growth in new technologies.
I appreciate your efforts and those of the Naval Submarine League in supporting the New Attack Submarine. If I can be of any further assistance, please let me know.
John H. Dalton
Secretary of the Navy