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Remarks by ADM F.L. “Skip” Bowman, USN Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion to the American Shipbuilding Association 25 February 2003

Introduction by Mr. Schievelbein: Our next speaker knows ships and knows them well.

Admiral “Skip” Bowman was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Admiral Bowman is a graduate of Duke University and received his Navy Commission through Duke ‘s NROTC Program. He holds two Masters of Science degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Admiral Bowman has served our Navy for nearly 3 7 years ashore and in both nuclear-powered attack submarines and ballistic missile submarines. He commanded the attack submarine CITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI from 1983 to 1986 and the submarine tender HOLLAND from 1988 to 1990.

Admiral Bowman’s first flag job was as Deputy Director of Operations in the Pentagon ‘s National Military Command Center. He was then assigned as the Joint Staff’s Director of Political Military Affairs under General Colin Powell and he served as the Navy’s 50’h Chief of Naval Personnel.

Admiral Bowman received his fourth star in 1996 upon becoming the third successor to Admiral Hyman G. Rickover as the Director of Naval Reactors. As the Navy’s senior submarine officer, he continues to provide the Navy and the nation with strong leadership and vision. I’m glad to have him on our side!!

I’m pleased that Admiral Bowman could join us today.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Admiral “Skip” Bowman.

I suppose I’d better start off with a couple of caveats myself. First of all, I’d like for the record to show that Congresswoman Jo Ann Davis (R-VA-lst District), the previous speaker, fussed at me several times for not pushing for more ships. That’s the first time that’s ever happened.

But there is a caveat that’s kind of important. I was told, Cindy [Ms. Cynthia Brown, President, American Shipbuilders Association], that this was to be a forum about nuclear-powered warships, and so my text will depart from my normal ecumenical and joint approach to life and will focus mostly on the nuclear power side of this world.

The nuclear power community is a growing community in the Navy. As a backdrop to what I would like to say about shipbuilding and about nuclear-powered warships, some of you might be surprised to find that our Navy oversees the same number of reactors as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission does in this country. 103 commercial reactor plants in this country, I 03 reactors in the United States Navy.

The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Vern Clark, considers his nuclear-powered fleet to be 40 percent of his major combatants. Since USS NAUTILUS, our ships have steamed some 126 million miles safely on nuclear power. Today, in addition to the 54 attack submarines, 16 Trident strategic missile submarines, and 9 of our 12 aircraft carriers, we’re in the various stages of building 5 more attack submarines and 3 carriers, converting two of those former Trident submarines to SSGNs, and refueling four LOS ANGELES-class submarines and one NIMITZ-class carrier. A fairly active business.

But in support of our Navy’s and our country’s global responsibilities and obligations, Sea Power 21 absolutely demands a forward-deployed, highly mobile Navy. Nuclear power delivers that mobility, delivers the endurance that goes with it, that is necessary in the world today, and as far out as I can see.

Our Navy’s warships are needed in more places around the world today than there are warships. Nuclear power helps bridge the gap between what we really need, as Congresswoman Davis said, and what we have today. Nuclear-powered warships can move from hot spot to hot spot faster and arrive on station more fully ready for combat than their conventional counterparts.

That said, even nuclear-powered can only be in one place at a time. We need more.

We’ve studied the need for nuclear-powered attack submarines and whether we really need large-deck nuclear powered aircraft carriers ad nauseum, since the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. These studies have unanimously endorsed both the attack submarine and the large-deck nuclear-powered carrier.

Some of you, and some others, have challenged the validity of these studies post-9/11. In point of fact, the Combatant Commanders’ demand for these ships has gone up, starting 9/12/2001. Today, right now, 39 of our nuclear-powered warships are at sea, poised to take the fight to the enemy. Our submarines are being asked to operate in places where they’ve never been. Shallow, contact-thick areas where only the submarine’s covert, persistent presence can deliver the goods.

Both the carriers and the submarines were key in routing the Taliban in Afghanistan and in disrupting the planning and operation of Al Qaeda-the base-the base of despicability-and both remain key in today’s plans.

But the future clearly brings imperatives for innovative payloads and sensors launched from these platforms. And that’s where we’re headed. The recently completed, highly successful GIANT SHADOW experiment tested concepts in hardware that cou Id double or triple the value of each of these submarines while reducing risk to the crew. And the CVN 21 will triple the electric power available and reduce manning onboard by around 800 billets-all while improving wartighting capability and survivability of these capital ships.

But you know in these days, when you can get a hamburger (without fries) in New York City for $50, we simply have to make these ships less expensive. Less expensive to the taxpayer, and less expensive to the Navy budget. Some are already warning-incorrectly I might add-that the VIRGINIA-class build rate of two per year starting in 2007 will consume some 40 percent of the Navy’s budget. We’ve done a poor job of buying and paying for these ships-these capital assets-smartly. Industry, Navy, OSD, OMB, and Congress simply must come to grips with buying and funding more intelligently. We must mend our ways.

All right, I said I was going to stay parochial and not ecumenical, but let me borrow from a tactic that I learned when I was on the Joint Staff from my Army counterparts. The Army generals always said that, what you should do when speaking before an audience is tell that audience what you’ re going to tell them; and then tell them; and then at the end, remind them what you’ve just told them.

I’ve told you what I’m going to say, so now let me say it. And I’ll do it this time with typical Naval Reactors lecture slides.

This first chart merely shows, over the years (starting with the fall of the Berlin Wall), those studies that I indicated had been conducted, dealing with the need for attack submarines. Study after study, those conducted in the Pentagon and in the Joint Forces, and out in the Combatant Commanders’ area of responsibility, have dictated a need for around 65 to 70 submarines. Certainly, one of the bell-ringers was the Defense Science Board’s study in 1998 that called the attack submarine “the crown jewel in the Nation’s arsenal.” At that time, we had 65 attack submarines, and that study said “we need more, not fewer.”

But you might notice, down at the bottom, are three studies that were based, not on warfighting, but on cost. And you might also notice that the black line, which represents today’s attack submarine force structure, has merged-not to the Combatant Commanders’ needs for warfighting and peacekeeping around the world-but rather to the budgetary demands of those three studies at the bottom.

So I rest my case: We simply must remove cost from these vessels. Post-9/11, as I said earlier, the demand went up for these ships by 30 percent. We are attempting to make do with the numbers that we have (54 attack submarines today) by running these submarines harder. That is to say, our basis for planning has always been that we would move these submarines from point A to point B at 16 knots. Today, to make ends meet, we’re moving them from Point A to Point B to point C -at 20 knots.

The Navy’s planning goals also state that we would be operating while deployed for 65 percent of the underway time (35 percent in port, just port visiting, or doing some needed maintenance). Our attack submarines are pushing 80 percent operational tempo.

We’re also seeing a reduction in what the Navy calls the “turnaround ratio” (which means the time that a crew is back in port, divided by the time it was out to sea). So we’re trying to make ends meet. Something’s gotta give. Something will give. What’s going to give at the end of the day is the reactor core endurance, because we are taking neutrons out of this core that are irreplaceable. So the idea that these submarines and the reactor cores in them will last for 33 years, we’re seeing drift by us as we continue to operate as we’ve had to after 9/11.

The next chart shows the same thing for the carriers. Study after study has looked at alternatives, ranging from the MOB [mobile offshore base] to SWATH [small water plane area twin-hull] ships to semi-submersibles, to repeat NIMITZ. And each time (and again and again) has determined that the right answer is the large-deck nuclear-powered warship, called a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier of about I 00,000 tons.

As Congresswoman Davis said, if you ask the Combatant Commanders, they would call for 15 of these carriers, and we have 12. We are trying to make that work.

Nuclear Powered Vessels in the War on Terrorism

The next slide shows something of what we’ve been doing post-9/11. and why that demand signal has gone up. In the center, there’s a map of that area of the world that includes Pakistan, Afghanistan. and portions of India.

On 9/11, USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65) was on her way home after completing a deployment to the Arabian Gulf. Upon hearing the news of the attacks. she headed back toward the Arabian Gulf without order from higher authority. Likewise, the aircraft carrier USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70) and the attack submarines USS KEY WEST (SSN 722) and USS PROVIDENCE (SSN 719) proceeded to station off the coast of Pakistan. These four nuclear-powered warships (a total of 12 reactors) responded immediately in this time of crisis-a testament to their endurance, mobility. and speed. If the President had chosen, he had two carriers and two submarines ready to launch within 48 hours.

I said earlier that nuclear power delivers the mobility and the endurance that’s necessary in this crazy world that we’ re going to be living in, probably for the rest of our lives. I would rest my case with this story.

Also shown on this slide are the various other aspects of the post-9/11 situation that the nuclear-powered warships have been at the heart of: the number of Tomahawk missiles launched against the Taliban in Afghanistan, 30 percent of them from the nuclear-powered warship community; the number of sorties and manned strikes into Afghanistan, 70 percent of them from our carriers.

A new mission: tracking and keeping track of those merchant ships that we know Al Qaeda is involved in. Knowing who’s aboard and what their names are. What the names of the ships are. What color they are when they go into port, and what different color they might be when they come out of port. All of this of inestimable value to our Global War on Terrorism.

The next chart covers what I said earlier about Sea Power 21. This blueprint for the future is predicated on the notion that the United States is a maritime nation, and of course it is. And Sea Power 21, to a lot of people, sounds like more of the same: Sea Basing, Sea Strike, and Sea Shield. But it goes beyond what we’ve done before. It goes beyond shielding just maritime forces, to shielding those forces ashore. It goes beyond merely striking and moving on, to persistent strike over months if necessary. And it goes beyond merely basing the maritime forces at sea, to providing the joint force commander an option to set up a base when our fickle allies aren’t there for us and bases aren’t available ashore, to set up those bases at sea.

Needless to say, the missions of our attack submarine force and our nuclear-powered carrier force are at the heart of all three of those sub-missions of Sea Power 21 today.

But the future is also very bright. On the next chart, we show examples of what I mentioned earlier. This experiment, GIANT SHADOW, is all about where I think we need to go.

My own submarine community has painted itself into a comer, in a certain respect, by touting the virtues of SSGN as only having to do with Tomahawk missiles and snake-eaters (special forces). Certainly, it has to do with that. And carrying over 150 Tomahawk missiles, which nearly equals the number of Tomahawk missiles in today’s carrier strike force, is a very important contribution to tomorrow’s warfare. And carrying a platoon of60 sea-based special forces that can plan their missions in their entirety from onboard the ship is very important. But beyond that we must go.

This experiment that was conducted just a couple of weeks ago off the shores of Florida, in the USS FLORIDA (SSBN 728), demonstrated the capability to move sensors off the submarine and well inland. Unmanned underwater vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles, to be controlled from the ship (in the case of the underwater vehicle, launched from the ship). The underwater vehicle tracing a safe path for the special forces to go ashore through a minefield that was implanted in the waters there, a simulated minefield. The unmanned aerial vehicle-not launched this time from the submarine, but lent to us-to be controlled from the submarine, downlinking to the forces ashore. This is what we need to do: taking our sailors out of harm’s way, extending the reach of the submarine far inland. And this is the future. And this thinking needs to extend to our SSN’s.

In the bottom left-hand comer is an artist’s conception of the advanced sail that could hold some of this payload that doesn’t necessarily go boom. We have to get out of that mind set, also.

On the right-hand side is the carrier of the future (CVN 21) that Congresswoman Davis spoke about. Indeed, CVN 21 will provide three times the electrical power. Indeed, her design will allow survivability enhancements and opportunities for future additions. There will be an 800-billet reduction, and an operating cost of about $9 billion, over the life-cycle of this ship, less than the NIMITZ-class carrier. CVN 21 is the way of the future, and it was the right thing to do at the end of the last budget cycle to go back to the drawing boards and ask ourselves what could be pulled forward from CVNX-11 (so-called then) onto CVNX-1, now named CVN 21.

But now the next chart leads us to the problems, the decisions, the areas that we have to take full account of and come to grips with. On the left-hand side, trace out the top, black line on the top chart: that’s what we would achieve if we continued to buy these submarines foolishly, one at a time, one each year, as though we weren’t in the game for the long haul. That represents the learning curve. It does represent savings, but not very dramatic savings.

The next curve down shows the additional savings achieved by going to two a year. Simply going to two a year, stabilizing the work force, allowing the shipyards to plan, allowing the subcontractors to plan, and equally important, simply adding numbers in the denominator with the numerator staying the same. What I’m talking about is the overhead at the yards will stay the same (in the numerator), and we’re dividing that fixed overhead by a larger number of ships in construction (the denominator) and therefore the unit cost of each of these submarines will come down. So if nothing else, going to two a year, all by itself, achieves unit-cost savings for those reasons.

But the power that’s really available to us is in the President’s FY04 budget. And it is to couple a multi-year procurement option with economic ordering quantity, which the Navy is footing the bill for and putting up front. So the bottom curve coming down shows the dramatic power of coupling a multi-year procurement contract with economic ordering quantity. (I’m going to talk about this on the next chart, and last chart, just a little bit more.)

In the bottom left-hand comer are the eight remaining LOS ANGELES-class submarines on the table in the years ahead. We have inactivated and decommissioned 10 LOS ANGELES-class submarines. This, I think, is a tragedy. We have refueled, or are in the process of refueling, 13. That leaves 8 of the 31 original 20-year core, LOS ANGELES-class submarines to do something with.

The up arrows show the five LOS ANGELES-class submarines that are in the President’s budget for refueling and continuing on for 12 years for a net cost of $200 million. Twelve years of service for a net cost of$200 million. The other marks are those decisions that we could make to include three more LOS ANGELES-class submarines in the refueling batch.

For $200 million apiece, I think we should.

On the right-hand side is the decision that’s pending on the Hill to allow split-funding at least over 2 years of this expensive, but very much needed CVN 21. At the bottom is the old way of doing business: fund it all in one year. Now I know everyone in this room who has ever bought a house, buys their house exactly that way, right? Pay for a house in one year. No. Doesn’t make sense when buying a house.

Doesn’t make sense when buying these capital ships, either At least by split-funding over 2 years, it provides the Navy some head space in the upper chart on the right to buy more ships during those two heavy years of CVN funding. We must take these decisions on this Hill this year.

Finally, in the last chart, I wanted to talk more about this multi-year procurement with the so-called economic ordering quantity leverage that is available.

On the left-hand side is a profile of what the President’s FY04 budget looks like. Circled is a billion dollars of Navy money-in $400 million, $400 million, $200 million increments- to fund primarily the material buys from the shipyards to their subcontractors. Enormous leverage and savings can accrue to this. Giving those subcontractors the opportunity to plan ahead, to stabilize their own workforce, to figure out the most efficient way to deliver this needed material to the shipyards, to level-load and avoid the cost of each year starting up and shutting down, and starting up and shutting down: this is the right thing to do. And the Navy has funded this in this FY04 budget that’s now on the Hill.

The right-hand side is out-of-the-box, not-asked-for, purely Bowman-think. It has to do with another angle at this. Given that the Navy put this billion dollars of EOQ money up, if you take a look at the required outlays-that is to say, after budget authority is grante J, after money is deposited figuratively on the Treasury books in YR 1 (year one) for the submarine, and let’s say $2 billion for round numbers-in that first year only about 7 percent of that $2 billion is really needed in outlays: in bills that must be paid, in checks that must be drawn against that account.

So let’s call it 10 percent so we can do the math in our heads: $200 million against the $2 billion that is written on the Treasury books. So $1.8 billion sits on the Treasury books, doing us no good, earning no interest, no helping. If we could employ that $1.8 billion that’s shown at the top of that YR 1 scale in allowing the shipbuilders, now, to be all they can be, and utilize that funding in what I’m calling economic production quantity (EPQ)-there’s more money to be saved.

This may not be the best idea in the world (in fact, it might be a terrible idea), but it’s another thought. It’s another idea.

And we have shown that we’ve got to stop doing business the old way, through everything that I’ve said. We must find a better way.

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