At the request of the editor of The Submarine Review, Captain James Hay, I will not respond point-by-point to Jerry Holland’s critique of my comments on the article Really New SSNs in the Naval Institute Proceedings. It is perhaps sufficient to say that even participants have differing opinions of events, while contemporaneous records-official and unofficial-also differ on several of the points raised.
Hopefully, our exchange fostered some thinking among participants in the current debates over future submarine designs and force levels. At the risk of being presumptuous, I would put forth a few assumptions related to our exchange that I believe can be accurately labeled as facts:
1. Larger does not always mean better.
2. Larger almost always means more expensive.
3. Many (most?) Americans prefer larger-a cultural characteristic-as evidenced by the growing sales of SUV s, the overly large portions in many popular restaurants, the trend toward larger homes (albeit with smaller yards), etc.
4. VIRGINIA (SSN 774) is a very good submarine, despite being significantly smaller than SEA WOLF (SSN 21 ).
5. The submarine community has not made a case for 55 or more SSNs to all of the key players in defense decision making; accordingly, a reduction in SSN force levels can be expected over the next few years.
Again, I hope that this exchange has been illuminating to at least some readers. As Benjamin Franklin is reputed to have said, “Agreement produces very little. Disagreement produces discussion and debate, and that leads to progress, invention, and innovation.”