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Committee on House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces

September 12, 2013

The formal written statements provided by Rear Admirals Breckenridge and Johnson were made available to the NSL membership by the Naval Submarine league Update of 20 September 2013.


I want to welcome our members and our distinguished panel of experts to today’s hearing that will focus on our undersea warfare capabilities and challenges.

As to this hearing, I continue to believe that the undersea warfare capabilities provided by our United States Navy provide a preeminent role in the-control of the global commons. These capabilities provide the United States with a key, asymmetric advantage over any potential aggressor. Even in a time of declining resources, it’s crucial that our nation continue to retain our strategic advantage in undersea warfare.

At the heart of our current fleet is the Los Angeles class attack submarine. To augment the Los Angeles class, this committee has been successful in the authorization of two Virginia class submarines per year. And we authorized another two boats in the fiscal year 2014 NDAA. However, with the accelerating retirement of the Los Angeles-class submarine, our nation will drop below the 48-boat goal starting in 2025.

I believe that our attack submarines are an essential element to any of our nation’s high-end warplans, and I remain committed to continuing the annual procurement of two Virginia-class submarines to retain our asymmetrical advantage.

Our Submarine Force also provides a substantial strike capability with the land attack Tomahawk cruise missile. Our Navy has four of Ohio-class guided missile submarines that can each carry 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles. Unfortunately, these four boats are scheduled to be retired. The Navy has proposed to replace this reduced strike capacity with the Virginia Payload Module. I believe that the Virginia Payload Module could provide this additional capability to the fleet. And I’ll closely monitor the affordability of the Virginia Payload Module to ensure that the benefits outweigh the associated cost.

Finally, the Ohio-class replacement program is expected to provide almost 70 percent of our nation’s entire strategic arsenal. Our national security rests on our ability to deliver this boat on time and within budget. Unfortunately, the cost of these 12 boats will each average $6 billion. And they crowd out other ship-building interests starting in the next five years.

I believe it’s imperative that the Department of Defense allocate the correct funding towards these strategic assets and ensure that our United States Navy does not disproportionally bear the burden. The fair share division of our nation’s defense resources at the Pentagon needs to come to an end to ensure that our naval forces are properly resourced for our future challenges.

Today, we are truly honored to have as our witnesses the director of the Undersea Warfare Division, Rear Admiral Richard Breckenridge, and the Program Executive Officer for Submarines, Rear Admiral David Johnson.

Gentlemen, we want to thank both of you for your service. You’re the best our country has to give. We thank you both for being in the role that you’re in. And we are looking forward to hearing your testimony today.

I now want to recognize my friend, the ranking member from North Carolina, Mr. Mclntyre, for any remarks that he might have.


Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

As we look at the Navy’s plan in undersea warfare programs, we couldn’t have two better witnesses. So thank you, Admiral Johnson and Admiral Breckenridge for your service and for being here today.

And thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing. Because we do know the Navy’s undersea capabilities are critical — critical issues facing the DOD and the Congress as a whole.

Particularly, I want to thank Admiral Breckenridge, whom I’ve known since I first came to Congress for his leadership and character, for his integrity and-and for your service. And thank you for being a continuing example of that, from the time I knew you when you were studying for your first exam to be able to do nuclear engineering and to go on to submarines.

And to have risen today to the responsibility and rank you have, you’ve been steadfast in that. And thank you for that great witness of character.

As we look ahead to examining the Navy’s plans in this area, there’s a lot of talk about China, about other countries having asymmetric advantages over the U.S. But we know in terms of submarines, the reverse is true, and you gentlemen know that better than anybody which is, of course, why you’re here today.

We know that our submarines are clearly at the forefront and clearly have the most mobility to do what needs to be done quickly, accurately and responsibly.

We know that means we can’t take that advantage for granted, and it means that we can’t simply standstill, or, I guess the better parallels say we shouldn’t just simply stay anchored, we must get underway. And we must stay underway with the advancements in our submarine fleet and our underwater warfare capabilities.

Another reason, of course, we want to talk with you gentlemen is we’re concerned about the cost of the current submarine programs and how that’s gonna impact what we do now, but obviously what we do in the future.

In the fiscal year 2014 budget alone, there’s more than $5 billion in shipbuilding procurement accounts for the Virginia class attack submarine program. That is supposed to continue for many years.

There’s also about $750 million in research and development for the Ohio class replacement submarines, which I know we’ve had some conversations about, even though we are years away from actually starting construction.

In both cases, in plain terms, that’s a lot of money.

But as things stand today, it looks like the nation gets the most bang for its buck out of these investments.

With falling budgets, with sequestration, we are concerned about how the Navy will be able to keep these programs on track. It’s not only a personal interest, or a professional interest for you, I know, as Navy officers, but it’s an interest that I know you share in our national defense, in a concern on behalf of our nation.

Finally, I want to mention the future of unmanned, underwater vehicles. The progress in this area is raising some important questions. Will the Navy be able to expand its global undersea presence without the expense of building more and more large very expensive manned submarines? Or, alternatively, will the Navy, in the future, do more to have a balance of some type? And, if so, in what proportion of both manned and unmanned submarines working together to make our overall submarine fleet more effective?

These are the type of questions-we know that we hear a lot about unmanned aerial vehicles these days. And that’s captured the public’s imagination, but also been the reality in our military.

This is a new area, though, for many people. And as our citizens start asking questions, we would like to hear your answers, as we look ahead to those unmanned submarines and other ways of having unmanned, underwater vehicles and activities.

We look forward to your testimony. Thank you for your service. And, indeed, we pray God’s blessings upon you and your families, because we know they make great sacrifices in the lengthy times that you have been away and will continue to be away, as you serve our great nation.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Gentlemen, we thank you both. And, as you know, as you look at this subcommittee, we’re building a record so that we can use it for making the decisions that we need.

It’s probably one of the most bipartisan subcommittees that you’ll find in Congress. Mike is one of my closest friends in Congress. And Mr. Courtney is representing the Northeast up here for us today. Mike and I are carrying the southern portion. And we’ve got Mr. Cook bringing up our western flank over there.

So we’re well represented in here.

But, Admiral, we’re gonna tum it over to the two of you.

And I think, Admiral Breckenridge, are you gonna go first?

Then we’ll turn it over to you. Thank you for being here.


Well, Mr. Chairman, distinguished members, Rear Admiral Dave Johnson and I thank you for the opportunity to testify before the Subcommittee on Sea Power as we represent the men and women of your Navy’s undersea forces.

And in both your opening statements, again, the special relationship the Navy has enjoyed with Congress since the very beginning of our country is an underpinning of our greatness as a nation.

With the permission of the subcommittee, I propose to provide a brief statement and a separate written statement for the record.

By any objective measure, the United States has the finest undersea force in the world. We enjoy a distinct military advantage in the undersea domain, unlike any other. When you consider land, the surface of the sea, air, even space and cyber, these domains are becoming more and more heavily contested between us and our adversaries.

But in the undersea domain, we have a unique military advantage. And that advantage has been the bedrock of our greatness as a nation. A crown jewel, if you will, of our global strength and security. Strength, I might add, that is not used to add to our own national glory, but is instead given sacrificially as we stand by others who are severely oppressed as they pursue the ideals of democracy and freedom.

The outstanding reputation enjoyed by our Submarine Force is the result of sustained excellence by our shipbuilders, our maintainers, our shore staffs, our planners, and most of all, by the men and women who operate our submarines day in and day out.

This is demanding, hard, technical work that requires the best people our nation can produce. And we’re very fortunate as a country to draw the members of this great team from all over the nation.

Our undersea forces have a unique role within the Navy, just as the Navy has a unique role within the joint force. Undersea forces leverage the concealment of the undersea to provide what no other part of the joint force can deliver, and that is persistent, undetected, assured access, bow forward, and the ability to deliver unique military advantages.

By leveraging stealthy concealment our undersea forces can deploy forward without being provocative, penetrate an adversary’s defensive perimeter, and conduct undetected operations. These undetected operations might be precautionary ship movements, intelligence collection and surveillance missions or special forces operations.

Should it be necessary, our concealed undersea forces can exploit the element of surprise and attack at a time and place of our choosing. These attacks could include efforts specifically focused on helping ensure access into a denied area by our follow-on general-purpose forces.

Feedback from our operational commanders indicates that the demand for this capability is strong throughout the globe. In addition, looking into the future, the threat to our ships and aircraft from cruise missiles, anti-ship ballistic missiles and integrated air defense systems is growing. This will create more military demand for undersea forces.

Against this backdrop of increasing undersea force value and continued strong demand, we must consider the trends in undersea force structure.

The Navy has worked hard to stabilize overall naval forces near or slightly above the current level. However, within the stabilized Navy, there is a Submarine Force that will decline by more than 25 percent over the next 15 years.

This decline is not the result of some recent decision, as you mentioned. It is the gradual consequence of a long list of choices made over many years.

The total Submarine Force will drop from 73 submarines to 52 ships, a cut of about 30 percent. The vertical strike payload volume of the undersea force, as our SSBNs retire and-and we reach the bottom of this trough area with our SSNs, will drop by over 60 percent.

The forward presence of our submarines around the globe will decline by over 40 percent.

This is the program of record. This is with the two-per-year Virginia construction rate, of which we’ve received great support from Congress.

So facing a long-term trend of increasing undersea importance and decreasing undersea forces capacity, the Navy has developed an integrated approach to provide as much undersea capability as possible, yet within realistic constraints.

This integrated approach does not solve all of the shortfalls faced by the Navy, but it makes significant progress with limited resources. I would like to discuss the top four priorities of this integrated, undersea future strategy.

First and foremost, it is mandatory that we sustain our survivable, sea-based nuclear deterrent with about the same level of at-sea presence as today. The Ohio class represents the best lessons learned from the SSBNs that proceeded it, and the Ohio replacement will likewise benefit from the Ohio class.

Although we have delayed this program for over 20 years, it is now time to make the necessary investments to support procurement of the first Ohio replacement in 2021. There is no allowance for any further delay.

Second, to prevent the attack submarine reduction from getting any worse than the 29 percent currently programmed, it is essential that we protect the Virginia-class SSN procurement plan and hold the line at two SSNs per year.

Number three, to cost effectively compensate for the retirement of the four SSGNs (ph) and the reduction in our SSN force below the required minimal level of 48 ships, we need to invest in the Virginia Payload Module. In addition to partially compensating for the lost strike volume, the Virginia Payload Module will distribute this volume over more hulls, providing greater security and military utility. This module will provide valuable payload flexibility in the future that will otherwise be unattainable.

And lastly, it is essential that we restart torpedo production to fill empty torpedo stocks to create the required reserves, and reestablish a capable producer of these highly specialized weapons. Taken together, this integrated program will provide us with the platforms, the payload volume, and the capable payloads to address emerging future needs.

The United States is fortunate to have the best undersea force in the world. At the same time, we have the greatest burden of responsibility of any nation in the world with scores of countries looking to us for nuclear security and defense in a world that is increasingly uncertain and combative.

Our undersea forces are up to the task today and will continue to be up to the task in the future, provided they are supported with the right resources.

Thank you, sir.


Thank you, Admiral Breckenridge.

Admiral Johnson?


Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And good morning.

I would like to thank the Seapower Subcommittee for inviting me here today to talk to you about the Navy’s undersea warfare programs. My role as Program Executive Officer for Submarines is to provide the Navy with the platforms, the weapons and the sensors required to ensure the United States maintains its unquestioned dominance in the undersea domain, done both affordably and on time.

This past Saturday, we commissioned the tenth Virginia-class submarine, USS MINNESOTA, SSN-783, which delivered 11 months early to her contract delivery date and closed out the second or Block II contract. Of the 10 Virginias now in the fleet, we’ve delivered seven early, including all of the six Block II submarines.

When looked at in terms of relevance to the war fighter, these submarines, from VIRGINIA to MINNESOTA, gave the fleet over four years of additional Virginia-class submarine use because of their early delivery. And the fleet has used these ships, deploying them to front-line missions at on-station rates that meet or exceed the Los Angeles-class submarines they are replacing. That kind of performance is a testament to the strong Navy industry team that is one of the strongest in all of the Department of Defense.

Not being satisfied with our past successes, we continue to reduce delivery spans and deliver ever-more capable ships. Two days ago, the 11th Virginia-class ship, the future USS NORTH DAKOTA, SSN-784, rolled out of the construction facility at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut and into dry dock in preparation for float-off this Sunday.

North Dakota is the first of the Block Ill ships, the ships we modified for cost reduction and designed and built with large payload tubes in the bow. NORTH DAKOTA is tracking to a January of 2014 delivery. And if that holds, she’ll be seven months early and break the 60-month barrier on the lead ship of a new contract. That is truly phenomenal performance.

Now, over the course of the Virginia-class program, each ship delivered more complete and more ready for tasking. One measure I use is how each ship is graded by the Navy’s independent assessor. That’s the Board of Inspection and Survey, or INSURV for short.

The Huntington Ingalls Industry Newport News delivered ship, MINNESOTA, received the highest score yet from INSURV and continued a trend also seen on her predecessor, the Electric Boat delivered ship, USS MISSISSIPPI.

Beyond new construction performance, the program is focused on maximizing the operational availability. We executed a number of modifications to the design in the Block IV Virginias, the I 0 ships we are in negotiations with General Dynamics Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industry Newport News today. That will add one deployment to each boat and reduce to three, the number of major shipyard availabilities over the ship’s 33-year life.

We intend to continue our collective work to lower cost, both construction and in service, and deliver these capable Virginia-class submarines affordably.

As Admiral Breckenridge mentioned, we have the initial research and development funds to design a payload module to accommodate up to 28 Tomahawk cruise missiles and future payloads. The Virginia Payload Module will utilize the modularity and the flexibility inherent in the Virginia-class base design and reconstitute the SSGN’s payload volume in a cost-effective manner.

The Virginia class program, with its industrial partners, has proven its ability to incorporate new design concepts without disrupting a successful production program. l am confident that we will be in a position to execute the Virginia Payload Module affordably in the fiscal year 2019 Block V contract.

The experience and knowledge gained from the successful Ohio-class ballistic missile and Virginia-class fast-attack submarines are being used to design the Ohio replacement ships. Since the program’s initial acquisition milestone, we have focused on delivering a ship with the right capability at the lowest possible cost.

The program is a model for Secretary Kendall’s better buying power approach to defense acquisition, incorporating from the start key tenets, such as affordability targets and innovative contracting. The R&D contract with Electric Boat contains discrete incentives for reaching significant, specific, non-recurring engineering, construction and operating support costs.

This is the first time in a ship-building research and development contract we’ve tied substantive incentive fees to cost reduction across the entire life cycle. This is but one example of how the Ohio replacement program is reducing its cost.

And, finally, I’d like to mention our torpedo work. It has been 17 years since the last Mark 48 heavy-weight torpedo was built. Restarting that production line is, as Admiral Breckenridge said, a top Submarine Force priority.

We’ve demonstrated our ability to reduce cost and improve capability in this world’s best torpedo using hardware upgrades with software improvements to the front-end electronic kits. We are developing our acquisition strategy to leverage our current industrial base and develop the industrial base elements to restart the build of the entire weapon using the proven Mark 48 advance capability heavy-weight torpedo design.

The restart effort is critical to replenishing our torpedo inventory, and like the Navy’s other undersea programs, will be done affordably.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to answering your questions.


Thank you, Admiral Johnson.

And Admiral Breckenridge, you had mentioned a couple of alarming statistics in terms of our subs reducing from 73 to 52. And can you give us that time frame again?


Yes, sir, Mr. Chairman. That time frame is between now and 2030.


And that would be exclusive of sequestration. Isn’t that correct?


Yes, sir. That is correct.


So if you add sequestration onto that, those numbers become even more staggering.


Exacerbated further, yes, sir.


The other thing that I’d love for you to address, if you would, is as you see the reductions that we are recognizing, with reducing our subs from 73 to 52 by 2030, our presence in subs dropping 40 percent, I think your statistics. Can you give us a little snapshot of what you see happening with some of our peer competitors, and specifically with Russia and China in terms of what they might be doing to compete with some of our capabilities?


Yes, sir. The first thing I’d like to emphasize is the Chief of Naval Operations understands the undersea asymmetric advantage very well. And one of his top priorities is making sure that we never forfeit this advantage that we have in the undersea domain. So even in the face of the budgetary pressures of things like sequestration, the Navy is committed to providing as much stable funding as we can to continue the success story that Admiral Johnson mentioned with our shipbuilding industry partners to keep rolling with the Virginia class and Ohio replacement.

So, we’re going to do our best within naval service to hold the line and make sure that we don’t…


And Admiral, I don’t think any one of us on the committee question you doing your best. We just want to make sure we’re doing our best. And I’m afraid we’re not.


Yes, sir.


But let us know, what do you see with our peer competitors?


Yes, sir. And that’s a great question. And Congressman Mcintyre alluded to it in his remarks. Our adversaries are not standing still. And so, even though we have an advantage and we have a lead, we can’t sit on our lead. So we have to continue to move, or we do have the potential within 20 years of losing this crown jewel, this advantage that we have in the undersea domain.

So, if I could, I would like to address three countries to just talk about how other nations use the undersea domain. And the first one I’d like to address is Iran. So if you look at Iran, they, like many other countries, use the undersea domain from a purely maritime, sea-denial, local region-type of influence, much like we did in World War II in the Pacific. We used it as an asymmetric advantage, but it was for a maritime purpose, to hold at risk predominantly surface warships.

So, Iran has a Submarine Force. It is a disruptive force, a challenging force. And one that we deal with in regard to our ability to project stabilizing influence around the globe. But- so, there’s a maritime geographic use of undersea domain.

I’d like to contrast that with Russia. Russia and the United States use the undersea domain on a much, much larger level. It is a global strategic, lever of power. It is more than just a region. It is the ability to control the seas. It is the ability to do land attack from covert positions. It has a much larger utility than just a maritime sea-control, sea-denial perspective alone.

And the Russians have always maintained a very capable submarine force. I mentioned that we have an advantage. You know, they are a close second with regard to their capability and with regard to their shipbuilding industry and the capabilities they’re putting into their new classes of submarines.

The Russians today have a two-line production in their major submarine shipbuilding. They are recapitalizing their SSBN force. So as their SSBN force is retiring, they have the new Borey class. The lead ship is the Dolgoruky. The first three ships are seaworthy and in testing. They intend to recapitalize with at least a class of eight. There’s been talk of a higher number of SSBNs within their force. But that machine is running. Those very good quality ballistic missile submarines are being produced in Russia.

Their second line is an SSGN. And so I think they’ve watched us closely with our SSGNs. They see the value of large payload volume, the ability to take a large amount of strike capability to the undersea. And so they are building the Severodvinsk SSGN class. It has not four large-diameter tubes like we envision within the mid-section of the Virginia payload module, but their mid-section is an eight-pack. It’s two abreast by four.

So, they-they see the importance of the concealment of the undersea to bring potency with that. They can be threatening at a strategic level. And again, we are mindful of that and we are prepared to be able to counter that.

In the middle sits China. And China is sort of a hybrid between the Iran example I gave you and the Russian example I gave you. So, China right now is predominantly a maritime, regional undersea force, certainly a larger region, with more of our allies and partners that are sort of within their bubble. But they predominantly use their undersea forces to threaten the presence of our surface ships, to be able to shoulder off the positive stabilizing influence of our naval forces in an anti-surface warfare dimension.

But China is growing towards more of a global strategic undersea force. They have the Jin SSBN class, their own ballistic missile submarine class, and the JL-2 missile that they’re developing. That will put them into the stage of using the undersea for more than just maritime regional control. And they-they also are in development of a nuclear SSGN, a large vertical launch capacity submarine.

So there’s three pictures for you, sir, of the advances that our potential adversaries are making and that we have to be mindful of to make sure that we as a nation preserve this unique advantage that we have in the undersea domain.


Do you see the Chinese numbers increasing dramatically?


Yes, sir. That’s a great question. I failed to mention that. The challenge that I see with China is more of a capacity issue than necessarily a capability issue in the near term. I think the capability, the quality of their submarines will improve as we march forward a couple of decades. But right now, there is a capacity challenge that’s unique to what the Chinese Navy has.


Help us with the Virginia payload module. I know that Admiral Johnson was at the nursery when the Virginia class was born and has lived with it most of your career that you’ve got. And you’ve been a part of that, too, Admiral.

Can you give us for the subcommittee and for our record exactly what the Virginia payload module is, what it’s designed to do? And specifically, there’s been a little debate about the timing of the requirements and where we are on that. And if you could delineate that for us?


Yes, sir. Thank you very much.

So let’s pick, for example, Operation Odyssey Dawn against Libya. When our country decided to make an attack to neutralize the defense shield around Libya, we did that predominantly with a Tomahawk cruise missile strike, the bulk of which came from undersea forces. We had three submarines that were involved in that operation-one SSGN, USS FLORIDA, and two fast-attack, straight-stick Virginia Class submarines.

So, let’s hypothetically say that you have a target requirement where you need to strike 120 targets, which is a reasonable modest level for this type of operation. One SSGN carries 105 Tomahawk cruise missiles. So, it alone carries the bulk of that service requirement. You add another 12 missiles in one Los Angeles Class submarine you’re up to 117. Still doesn’t make the whole 120, but pretty close just with those two submarines.

So, as the SSGNs go away, that’s going to have a very significant impact for our ability to quickly mobilize a strike force, an arsenal ship of that capacity.

You know, to put it in perspective, without an SSGN and without the Virginia payload module, we would require 10 attack submarines to be able to service 120 targets. And I’m here to tell you that it’s highly unexecutable for us to mobilize and surge 10 attack submarines into a domain with the ability that we were able to muster forces for Operation Odyssey Dawn. So that’s problematic for us.

What the Virginia payload module does is it puts four large-diameter tubes in the center of the Virginia class that can carry seven Tomahawk cruise missiles each. So in addition to the two large-diameter tubes forward that Admiral Johnson with Block-III is building, that carry six Tomahawks each, we go from a 12-shooter SSN to a 40-shooter Tomahawk strike SSN. So three of Virginia class with the VPM could service a 120-target package.

So, just from a capacity perspective, VPM is a very cost-effective way to recapitalize. As you well know, we don’t have the ability as a nation to recapitalize our SSBNs, maintain two per-year Virginia, and develop a new SSGN replacement class. So this integrated solution is a way to distribute that firepower of a larger force in a very cost-effective way. At less than 20 percent the cost of a Virginia, I can more than triple its payload volume.

But I don’t want to restrict this discussion to just land attack strike, although again, that’s a very asymmetric, unique advantage for a country. But there’s many other things that we can do with a large capacity, large open ocean interface. And Congressman Mcintyre mentioned UUVs and supplementing our thin, manned Submarine Force with surrogates that are unmanned. And I’ll have the ability to get those UUVs into theater in those vertical payload tubes and deploy them and have a network or constellation of UUVs to supplement our manned platfonn.

So, this payload volume is strategically important for us, and I think is a low-risk, cost-effective improvement to the Virginia class.


Admiral, just one more thing, and then one question for Mr. Johnson. I’m hoping Mr. Mcintyre will ask some more about the new class.

But tell us about the requirements and where we are on those.


Yes, sir.

When the nation made the decision to go from an 18 SSBN to a 14 SSBN force, we had the first four Ohios coming into the window to be refueled. So we had this decision as a country. Do we just decommission them at the halfway point of their life? Or do we convert them to be able to do more-something different, more from the undersea for the country?

And with great support from Congress and great wisdom, the country went ahead and converted those four SSBNs to this new SSGN platfonn. That was a tremendous military benefit for us. There wasn’t a specific written requirement for that at that time, but we have come to grow to depend heavily on that requirement.


In both the Central Command and the Pacific Command a good portion of the Tomahawk strike requirement required day to day in theater for those combatant commanders is delivered by our SSGN force. So it has become a requirement for our military that is in high demand by the COCOMs.

What we, as a Navy, have done to codify this requirement is we’ve developed the Capabilities Development Document-it’s a joint staff process to fonnalize military requirements, that has been approved by the CNO, has undergone initial joint staff review and is on its path to JROC approval later this year.

So, on our side, we felt it important to show Congress we have a certified official military requirement for this payload volume, and the COD, that is in process of final approval, will be that pedigree of why this is as important as it is for the country.

So I expect to have that fonnal requirement by the end of this calendar year.


And, Admiral Johnson, tell us what we’re doing so that we can afford this very important module? What do you see us doing to make sure we’re maintaining the affordability?


Yes sir, great question Mr. Chairman.

So, the first thing, as Admiral Breckenridge noted, is we’re working on the requirements of getting those right up front.

As you said, I was in the early stages of the Virginia design. I watched us work hard with the operators and the acquisition force to get the requirements right back in the early ’90s. And we have essentially not changed our operational requirements document for Virginia in 20 years. And I think that’s a first order effecter on why that program has executed in such a cost effective manner.

For Virginia Payload Module we’re doing the same thing, we’re working hard to get the requirements set, and as Admiral Breckenridge noted, we’re about done with that process through the Joint Requirements Oversight Council.

Second is to execute a carefully planned designed program where we would achieve 80 percent design completed at construction start so that we can build the Virginia payload modules cost effectively, and is really one reason why we can’t sustain cuts to the Virginia Payload Module research and development funding, because we need to be going on that program by ’14-early ’14 so I can build and install that VPM in the 19 ships.

The third is, is to make sure that we keep the technical risk as low as possible. The payload tubes that will be in the Virginia Payload Module, two of them are about to be floated off on Sunday. Essentially they’re the same as what’s in the bow of the NORTH DAKOTA today. That lowers our technical risk by basically integrating instead of having to develop something new.

And fourth, keep affordability on equal footing with our technical requirements. Go forth through our design and do these cost capability trades, keep pushing on it, so that we do effectively insert a Virginia Payload Module. That thinking has already driven almost 40 percent out of the cost of our initial estimate for the Virginia Payload Module. I anticipate that will continue as we go through the design.


Congressman Mcintyre.


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you gentlemen again for your insight.

Admiral Breckenridge, at an estimated $6 billion a piece, the 12 Ohio class replacement submarines we realize won’t leave much room in the budget for critical undersea priorities. If hard choices have to be made, can you help us understand, would the Ohio class replacements be such a clear priority one-the Navy would prioritize them over having a full compliment of attack subs?


Yes sir, thank you.

Our ballistic missile submarines are the bedrock underlying our national nuclear deterrent. Americans are asked to invest in replacing this force only once every other generation.

The last time Congress started procurement of a new class of ballistic missile submarines was during the Nixon administration.

The next time will be in 2021 as we start to build the Ohio replacement class, almost 48 years later.

Recapitalizing this force is a solemn duty we have to the nuclear security of future Americans as well as allies. And I want to emphasize, with regard to the Ohio replacement program, we are designing it in close partnership with the U.K. as they have to replace their Vanguard class. The common missile compartment and the 05 strategic weapons systems will be common between both of our country’s and both of our nations are committed to making sure that we provide this capability on time.

Because ballistic missile submarines are infrequently procured, they are not part of the Navy’s stable ship building plan. Because this is episodic it’s an infrequent but critical responsibility for a country that is not built into the rest of our ship building plan.

In order to maximize the stability and cost efficiency of the existing ship programs, and to avoid reducing the size of an already stressed Navy, the funding of existing programs should not be disrupted. So often we hear the debate of well you can either afford your general purpose force Navy or we’re gonna have to go ahead and do this ballistic missile force investment.

And we pit two equally important strategic instruments of power against each other, which is just an inappropriate friction. So as Mr. Chairman mentioned, to best accomplish this Congress must look at a way to provide an annual supplement to the Navy during the very small margin of time that we recapitalize this submarine.

So we’ll build these 12 ballistic missile submarines, two less than what we currently use to provide strategic deterrence, in a 15 year period. And these SSBNs will serve for a 42 year life. So the return on investment is sort of amortized over four decades as we go ahead and recapitalize our SSBN force.

And so for a supplemental amount of about $4 billion per year and to make that clear to the rest of the ship building industry we can provide the stability we need to do both, to build the right Navy forces-general purpose forces-as well as recapitalize our SSBN force.

That is a $60 billion total, and we’ve mentioned that’s a lot of money. And again, we’re doing everything within our power-and believe me, we are working on affordability as one of our top priorities, higher than even some of the military capabilities of this replacement SSBN.

But, $60 Billion in the grand scheme of the Department of Defense budget represents less than 1 percent. So what we’re looking at is, do we have the will as a nation to be able to identify less than 1 percent of the budget, to go ahead and commit it to this 15 year recapitalization commitment without having an adverse impact on the rest of our general ship building force?

Just to try to give some examples to make this more germane. Let’s say we only are able to identify a $30 billion supplement or $2 billion a year over the 15 year period. If the Navy has to absorb that other $30 billion we would be required to cut from our other general purpose forces, four attack submarines, four large surface combatants DOGs, and another eight combatants.

So the Navy with only half of that supplement would have to compromise and build 16 less ships for the inventory. And those numbers double without any supplement to this important national strategic priority.

The last comment I’d make is-and I agree with Chairman Forbes, I do think it’s important for the country to look at this as a requirement above the Navy’s, a strategic level requirement and we ought to give it the gravity of attention and focus and insulation from the pressures of sequestration.

That said, the control of those resources must remain resident within the Navy with the control of our acquisition community. We know how to build submarines, we know how to oversee the building of submarines, Electric Boat and Newport News are the best submarine ship builders in the world.

We need to be able to make sure that if we come up with a creative, you know, strategic account for this that it’s still the Navy and the ship building team that has the control and authority over those moneys as we do this recapitalization to make it as affordable as possible.


Now, I appreciate that the thoroughness and the explanation and I agree with your analysis, and ideally would like to be able to look at it in a way that supplements and separates it from the more strategic DOD perspectives that says, as you know, in the outset of my opening comments the Submarine Force is clearly as you have said, the crown jewel, and as I was saying in my opening comments, is unmatched worldwide. And we know you’re at the forefront.

With regard to the priorities when you talked about we would have 16 less ships, so in other words I guess more precisely what I’m asking if we unfortunately are put in that situation of making priorities you feel like it’s so important that we have to go ahead absolutely with the Ohio Class replacement submarines. And in the unfortunate situation it is, is that it’s going to make the loss of other ships if those priorities have to be shifted around.

Is that correct?


Yes sir, that is exactly correct.

The CNO has stated, his number one priority as the Chief of Naval Operations, is our strategic deterrent-our nuclear strategic deterrent. That will trump all other vitally important requirements within our Navy, but if there’s only one thing that we do with our ship building account, we are committed to sustaining a two ocean national strategic deterrent that protects our homeland from nuclear attack, from other major war aggression and also access and extended deterrent for our allies.

Part of the reason we’ve been able to avoid proliferation of nuclear weapons around the globe is the great responsibility the United States has to assure our allies that we will also provide deterrent effectiveness for them, so that they don’t have to pursue their own nuclear weapons.

If we don’t build these 12 SSBNs on this time line-and again it to me is mind staggering how much risk as a nation that we’ve taken with regard to this recapitalization timing decision-even last year the Budget Control Act, we decided to delay this program. by two years such that we’re going to go down to a minimum level of 10 SSBNs during the transition between Ohio’s timing out at 42 years and the Ohio replacement coming on as a new class. That’s just astronomical a challenge for us to be able to maintain our vibrant and credible two ocean deterrent to deter bad behavior from powerful adversaries.


Thank you, that’s the kind of summary that I think is well stated and succinct and that message I hope and encourage you all to get that bullet point kind of message so that our fellow colleagues can understand that clearly, that this is what will happen-you know, one, two, three-this is what our priorities are. And the way you’ve stated the CNO’s priority and how what you gentlemen do fit into that is essential.

I have one other quick question, Mr. Chairman.

I mentioned in the opening remarks, and I don’t want this to go by, because I think it is a question. The large number of unmanned underwater vehicles, will that allow the Navy to-I mean, could a large number of unmanned underwater vehicles allow the Navy to expand global undersea presence in a way that would make it more cost-effective, and that possibly could avoid building some of the larger, more expensive, manned submarines?

Or, in light of what you just clearly explained, about their importance, is there a way in which manned and unmanned submarines could work together to make the fleet more effective, obviously from a defense standpoint, but also from a cost-effective standpoint?

And how does that fit in as we do look ahead, from the cost side as well as the effectiveness side?


Yes, sir, the manned platform provides the country incredible influence and access from the undersea domain. And as I work on the integrated undersea future strategy, the platforms remain paramount in importance.

You know, we mentioned this mm1mum number of force structure analysis of a 48 red line that we are gonna go below for over a decade as we bottom out to 42 based on decisions made in then ’90s. That minimum red line doesn’t really represent the COCOM demand. To keep 10 attack submarines forward-deployed across the globe, in the hot spots, in the places that they are operating today, requires a force of about 50 attack submarines.

The COCOM demand for what our undersea forces provide is about double that requirement.

So each year, as we go to each of the COCOMs and say, “What do you need from an undersea presence perspective for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, for Tomahawk inventory in-theater, for the other unique capabilities that submarines provide?” the combatant commanders typically request greater than double the I 0 SSNs that we’re able to provide.

So there’s always going be a high demand for platforms, of which, we’re going to have to make tough decisions and not be able to support that.

So with regard to UUVs being a solution to reducing our force structure, I don’t see that as a likely utility of unmanned undersea vehicles.

That said, we have some untapped potential in the undersea domain in the advantage that we have in the undersea domain by which we can leverage even greater than our manned platforms. And I think a strategy of using unmanned vehicles, of using seabed infrastructure with energy comms and sensors, will be vitally important to maintain our advantage in the undersea domain.

So we are beginning as a Navy to do exactly as you’ve recommended, and that is, how do I get even more bang for the buck in that domain, given the very tight limits, even with the mobility we have with our nuclear fleet, one ship can only be in one place at one time, so what can I do to even leverage greater influence?

And it’s going to come down to these large displacement UUVs.

And we’re beginning to build momentum to have those-to set them in use. Now, what will they do? What they’ll do is the missions that are dull, dangerous, dirty or deceptive, that the SSNs can’t do. So what we’ll do is we’ll be able to free up those manned assets to go do our nation’s bidding at that appropriate level, while these UUV surrogates are able to take care of sort of the run-of-the-mill missions where I don’t have to commit a manned platform to do it.


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you, gentlemen.


And, Admiral Breckenridge, before our next member, I just want to clarify the answer you gave to Congressman Mcintyre. As I understand, you were saying right now, to have 10 forward-deployed attack submarines, we would need 50 in the fleet.


Yes, sir. With a force of 50 total submarines in the Navy, we’re able to keep 10 attack submarines forward-deployed 365 days of the year.


And our combatant commanders need, I believe you said, to meet their requirements, 20 …. forward-deployed.


Yes, sir.


Would that math equate to needing 100 to …


Yes, sir.


I just wanted to make sure we had that clarified.

The distinguished gentleman from California, Mr. Cook, is now recognized for five minutes.


Thank you very much, Mr. Chainnan.

And, Admirals, thank you.

This is kind of ironic. You’ve got an infantry officer from the Marine Corps that’s gonna ask some questions.

So I do have to make a comment, and that is a few years ago, when I was a captain in the Marine Corps, I had the honor to meet Admiral Rickover. And I have to tell you, I talked to him it was at a mess night, ironically enough, and he was one of the most brilliant individuals in the world, but, I have to say, one of the most intimidating. And I don’t get intimidated easily.

But I have a question-you guys went through the academy and screened through the program, and you probably know that better than I do, but I think you should talk about somebody, a long time ago, that realized how important submarines were. And what he did for the Navy, for the country and everything else.

My fear is that a lot that’s happened in the past, the importance of what you do. And I went to the War College and I tried to understand-and I am one of your big supporters because it’s a force multiplier in so many different ways. And I think you explained that tremendously.

I’m afraid that it is becoming the Silent Service, in terms of the slice of the pie, you know, that DOD has when all those things that you outlined so eloquently the public just doesn’t understand it.

And it’s almost like it’s not glamorous. And yet-you mentioned it yourself about some of the other things. And the remotely piloted powered vehicles. And I can go on and on and on, all the different things.

So I would hope that we can kind of change that, because I think you’re going to have some tough times in the budget battles coming up. And a lot of it is going to be on public perception, so

that the people in this room I think are big supporters of it, but this isn’t going to be enough. And we’ve got to change that.

The big question I have is, very quickly, about the intel that the Russians and the Chinese have stolen, quite frankly, from the United States. I’m worried about this leakage. They’ve got the money, they’ve got the will to replicate what we have in your service.

And do you have any comments on that, because after what happened with the recent scandal, it just frightens me to death that this is gonna continue to happen, and you have indicated that they’re gonna do something about that. They have the money, the will and the power to do that. And they’re gonna pass us in tenns of overall technology.


Yes, sir.

A few comments before I answer your question. Dave and I are classmates from the proud class of 1982 at the Naval Academy. We were the last class to interview with Admiral Rickover. So I did have a chance to …


Was it fun?


It was-well, we’ll save that for another hearing.



But Admiral Rickover still lives in our nuclear force today. And I’m very proud to say that. What he brought into the culture of our nuclear-trained force provides an incredible return for the greatness of our Navy in leadership, in discipline. The Rickover Method is still in force. I am proud to say that I passed the interview with Admiral Rickover.

You know, the second thing that you mentioned is, I agree with you. I think we are victims of our-of our covert nature, and there’s not enough of America who understands or appreciates the brand (ph) that is attack submarines or, especially, our ballistic missile force.

You know, these sentinels have gone for over 50 years on continuous strategic deterrent patrols in two oceans over 4,000 70-day patrols safeguarding and protecting the United States of America. And I would tell you that there’s probably less than I percent of the American citizentry that even knows that role they play so they can sleep well at night.

We have to do a better job at getting that word out. And I thank Chainnan Forbes for this opportunity. I view this as so important, to be able to get over here and lift a little bit of the veil, and discuss the paramount importance of our undersea forces.

That said, there’s a lot of things that are super secret, that must remain so, but by nature of what we do. And we’ll push that as far as we can, that line.

But we’re more than happy to come over and give you highly classified briefings of some of the recent take around the globe of what our Submarine Force is doing.


Our good friend, Mr. Courtney, has a little interest in submarines, and he’ll have a few questions to ask for the next five minutes.

So, Joe?


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

When we talk about the submarine gap, which you’ve done an outstanding job, I think it’s important, really, also for the record, to remember that it was this subcommittee that in the spring of 2007 actually led the way in terms of an increase in submarine funding, over the objection of the prior administration, by $88 million, which kickstarted the two-sub-a-year production. Again, NORTH DAKOTA’s ahead of schedule, under budget, because of the economic quantity savings.

It was an incredibly important moment in tenns of addressing that submarine gap.

But last night I was walking around the Capital with the moonlight, thinking about, obviously, the anniversary of 9/11. And I was walking by Jack Murtha’s maple tree, which was planted there. And he, along with Gene Taylor and Roscoe Bartlett and others were part of the group that, again, led the way to make sure that happened.

And it’s a reminder that we all can make a difference here and this subcommittee can make a difference in tenns of making sure that the important issues that you raised here today aren’t gonna get lost.

And the good news is that the Navy’s request, which came over with the administration’s budget, the House Defense Authorization bill and the House Defense Spending bill all, basically, provide for two subs a year and full funding for design work, and we have to work on the Senate a little bit with the Virginia Payload.

But, I mean, there really is quite extraordinary consensus in tcnns of the fact that we need to protect this. And, hopefully, the bipartisan budget negotiations that are going to start today are going to get us to a point where we can, again, avoid all the negative consequences that you described here today.

One of the issues, again, which my friend, Mr. Mcintyre raised, was obviously that bulge in the ship building account that we’re looking at. Again, it’s important to start talking about a national security funding mechanism, a la the missile defense as a way of trying to solve that problem.

That’s probably a little bit off in tenns of a decision point for Congress. The one thing that we can control today is obviously trying to keep the cost down by making sure that the design and engineering budget request for Ohio replacement is protected.

And the one thing I’m concerned about, even if we just do a straight C.R. without sequester using last year’s budget levels, again, that leaves a short fall in tenns of making sure that we’re gonna get that investment in the design work.

And I was wondering, Admiral Johnson, if you could talk about that.


Thank you, Congressman Courtney.

So under a continuing resolution, because of our starting point in F.Y. ’13, which is about half of what the budget request is for F.Y. ’14, a C .R. is particularly hannful to the program. Because it’s research and development, the department has the latitude, if it chooses to alleviate some of the issue of that by actually putting in research and development funding to keep the program on its up ramp.

As Admiral Breckenridge noted, in 2012, that was our time to increase the designers and buying material and increasing our prototyping work to support a 2019 lead ship. That’s been indexed to the right two years. So now it’s 2014. Fourteen is the year that we need to significantly up scope our work so that we are ready for a 2021 build.

Continuing resolutions and sequesters hamper my ability to plan and execute the program required to tell Admiral Breckenridge that I will have a submarine ready on patrol in 2031. The time scale really does lay out that long.

So I think from a standpoint where I sit, a C .R., though, is harmful if it’s not mitigated by the department. A sequester is another issue because that is an out-right cut against the line, and that will, in fact, delay me.

As Rick said, insulate is a good word. But we do have to take a step back and look at how should we continue to fund this program. Do we continue the levels that we put into the budget to support us to have the research and development, the prototyping and design products disclosed to keep the ship building done predictably?

We have a very challenging ship-building schedule on this ship. We are going to build it in 84 months. It took Virginia 86 months. That ship is about a third the size of Ohio replacement.

Now why would we think we could do that? The reason is, we have the experience of Virginias. At that time, we’ll have at least contracted for over 30 Virginias by the time Ohio replacement ship one is under contract. So that alone, along with what we know now and how we- design the ship, we think we can be ready to build an 84-month ship.

But you back up 2021, 2028 is when I have to have the ship built for 203 1 deployment. That means I have to sustain the research and development in the design work now so that I’m ready in 2021 .


Great, thank you, Admiral.


Mr. Courtney, we thank you for your service in all of this and your hard work.

And, Admiral, as I understand what you’ve just responded to Mr. Courtney that delays that we’re putting into effect today will impact your ability to even deliver in 2031, that far out. Is that correct assessment?


That is correct. Yes, sir.


Gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Runyan, is recognized for five minutes.


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And, Admiral Johnson, you kind of touched on it with Mr. Courtney’s answer. I had an opportunity to go down to Huntington Ingalls a little over a year ago and asked them the question, as we get here-and God help us that we’re not in this budgetary climate 20, 30 years from now-but as we move down the road, when does the Navy start to put the crunch on the ship builders to say, “You’re gonna build these in less and less time” as we try to anticipate our adversaries steps forward and actually make that-that time longer?

So just, in your thought processes in the acquisition realm on that.


That’s a great question, Congressman in that we’re doing that today. We’re, today, in the Navy yard, sitting across from our Huntington Ingalls and Electric Boat partners with my folks and the NavSea folks to negotiate the next 10 ships, the 19th through the 28th ship.

If you look at where we were in Virginia, it took 86 months to build that ship. We just delivered the MINNE SOT A in 63 months. So we’ve actually taken almost two full years out of the build time.

We’re approaching a point where we can’t, on that level of magnitude, reduce the build span. Maybe we’ll get to the mid-50s if, in fact, we continue to work this. We certainly are challenging the ship builders along those lines.

Because time is money in the ship-building programs. And if we can get these ships out quicker, it gets those to Admiral Breckenridge and Admiral Conner so they’re able to be used. As I said, we’ve already returned four years of additional utility because of this thinking. But it also lowers the cost of these ships.


I appreciate that. Because I think sometimes-I know we experience on the HASC Committee, sometimes I don’t think the DOD thinks far enough in the future to really acquire the savings and the planning. I mean, obviously, you’ve said a lot of what we’re doing hasn’t changed in 20 years, especially in the submarine venue. And that has some cost savings to it in the long run. I have nothing else, Chairman. I yield back.


Thank the gentleman.

Mr. Langevin is recognized for five minutes.


Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I want to thank both of our witnesses for being here today. I appreciate your testimony, especially as we navigate the complex and challenging issues that we’re facing right now.

Like Mr. Courtney, I’ve a side interest in submarines. And so, I want to turn to that right now. As, I’m sure you’re aware, the CNO Admiral Greenert stated on September 5th that ship building will drop in fiscal 2014, and, specifically, that he envisioned the loss of a littoral combat ship and float forwarding a staging base and advance procurement for Virginia-class submarine and a carrier overhaul.

Can you elaborate on what the CNO’s referring to? In particular, with respect to subs, would this be an F.Y. ’15 or F.Y. ’16 vote? And how would this affect the proposed Block V.


Thank you, Congressman.

As we look at sequestration’s continuing forward, that will impact my ability to, obviously, fully fund not only the full funding for the ships in those years, but the advanced procurement.

If you look at ’13, ’13 took out $492 million out of the Virginia program, specifically, split between those ships in ’13 and the advanced procurement for the ’14 and ’15 ships. That same effect happens in F.Y. ’14. If it happens at the levels we estimate, which is around 14 percent, that’s almost $750 million out of the Virginia accounts in F.Y. ’14.

And the way the department handled it in F.Y. ’13 is, we have a cost to complete bills that have now moved forward by this committee. We appreciate the add of $492 million showing up in the ’14 budget for overcome in the sequester in ’13. That type of behavior has to continue in ’14 and on if we eventually can procure 100 percent of a ship when, in fact, I’ve only been paid for 86 percent of a ship under the sequester.

I can’t give you the specifics on what the CNO was talking about relative to which ships is it in F.Y. ’15 or ’16. But it will, over time, potentially impact that Block IV I 0 ship procurement, ’14 to ’18, those ships.

Our tack right now, though, is to try to preserve that 10 ship buy, but then have the department fund cost to complete bills for the cuts that we’ve taken in the intervening years. It will be more challenging to sign off on a 10 ship multiyear (ph) when, in fact, the budget doesn’t reflect full funding for all 10 ships going forward.



So let me tum also then to Ohio replacement. As I’m sure you’re well aware, the Navy ship-building budget clearly comes under significant future strain as the Ohio replacement program comes online. And to quote your department’s 30-year ship building plan, “The cost of the Ohio replacement SSBN is significant relative to the annual ship procurement resources available to the Navy in any given year.”

At the same time, the department will have to address the Block retirement of ships procured in large numbers during the 1980s, which are reaching the end of their service lives. And the confluence of these events prevents the Department of the Navy from being able to shift resources within the ship building account to cover the cost of the Ohio replacement SSBN.

The plan further states that if the Navy has to take these costs out of hide, the effects on the Navy’s battle force will be such that the fleet will not be sufficient to implement the defense strategic guidance.

So with that, can you inform the subcommittee as to the current progress of efforts to fund the Ohio replacement program as part of our deterrent and national strategic comparative outside the Navy ship building budget, akin to our military sea lift or ballistic missile defense. And, alternatively, is there talk of a supplement to the Navy ship building budget because of the strategic comparative resident in ORP?


Thank you, sir.

Just a little backstep and history to talk about the two other times that we’ve had to, as a nation, build the strategic deterrent. So in the ’60s we built 41 SSBNs; they were called the 41 For Freedom. We did that in a seven-year period, which again is just an incredible-only in America could you put out 41 ballistic missile submarines in a seven-year period.

There was an impact to other shipbuilding accounts at that time, but the priority was such for national survival that we had to make that an imperative and a priority.

There was a supplement to the Navy’s top line at that time when we fielded the class, but it did cast quite a shadow over the rest of the shipbuilding in the ’60s.

We recapitalized those 41 For Freedom with 18 Ohio-class SSBNs in the ’80s. It was the Reagan years. There was a major naval buildup. And underneath the umbrella of that buildup we were able to afford as a nation the recapitalization of building 18 SSBNs. Again, a very great success story from a shipbuilding industry perspective-the maturity, the stability. Electric Boat punched those out and did it at a great bargain for the country. To have that capability still around today, a 30-year design submarine that’s been extended a half again to a 42-year total service life is just sort of mind staggering.

Well, we’re at that point right now where there is no more delay, there is no more room to absorb risk and schedule where we have to recapitalize the strategic deterrent force.

The Navy recognizes that without a supplement this is going to have a devastating impact on our other general purpose forces ships and supports and is working with OSD and with Congress to identify the funds necessary, which I mentioned earlier represent less than 1 percent of the DOD budget for a 15-year period, to provide relief and fund this separately above and beyond our traditional norms (ph) for our ship control budget.

So we are at the point where we need to really make this decision. The stability of our other industrial bases count on us at this time, as Admiral Johnson pointed out the schedule as We
march toward construction in 2021, it’s time to develop this plan, it’s time for-as Congressman Courtney mentioned, the courage that we have in Congress at moments like this in our nation’s history with pivotal decisions with regarding shipbuilding that we go ahead and do the right thing by the wholeness of the Navy as well as recapitalizing this vital, strategic imperative.


Thank you, Admiral.

I yield back.


As we talk about those pivotal times and as Mr. Courtney said, the need to do that, one of the things that helps us is your information. And in our markup that we sent to the Senate, we requested the CNO to give us an accurate depiction of where we’ll be with shipbuilding based on the numbers that we can project. And he has said he’s willing to do that.

This is not a question for you, but a request: If you could perhaps ask the CNO in the department, it would help us because when we talk about 30-year shipbuilding plan we actually talk about it as if it’s gonna happen. And it’s been a little more than fantasy world, you know, in the past. But it would be great for us to be able to show other members and the public, ‘This is our 30-year shipbuilding plan. Here are the numbers we can realistically expect based on the last 30 years.’ And, you know, there’s a $4 billion shortfall annually there.

It’s my pleasure now to recognize the chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee, my good friend from Virginia, Rob Wittman.


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Admiral Johnson, Admiral Breckenridge, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks so much for your service to our nation. It means a lot, especially in these challenging times to have your leadership there.

Admiral Breckenridge, I want to begin with you. Give me your vision about how the Ohio class replacement program is gonna play out. And the reason I ask that is putting it in context of where we are now, with a tremendously successful program in the Virginia class, where we have a teaming agreement with Electric Boat and HII.

That is what I think is a very efficient model. Is that a good cost-effective way to look at how we pursue the Ohio class replacement program.


I’ll take the first swing, and then I’ll tum it over to the expert, sir.

Good morning.

Thanks again for hosting that breakfast yesterday. I really appreciated the opportunity to participate in that.

Sir, for a moment like this in our nation’s history we are gonna depend and rely on the best engineers, the best ship pipe fitters, the best, you know, across our submarine industrial base to make sure that we don’t miss a beat and that we deliver this national imperative. So it’s gonna require a whole team effort, you know, both Electric Boat and expertise from Huntington Ingalls is gonna need to be brought to bear with this challenge, make no mistake about it.

Now, you mentioned a great point, and I’ve talked a lot in hyperbolic terms about the risk and the compounded risk we’ve taken. I’m optimistic as a submariner and as the Director of Undersea Warfare that we have this incredible juggernaut that is our submarine shipbuilding industrial base that is just humming on all cylinders with the Virginia class. And we’re gonna be able to leverage that to be able to pull off a pretty daunting challenge with the recapitalization of the SSBN force.

And so I’m very optimistic that we have talent in America. We have the capacity in America. We’re gonna have to ramp up, as Admiral Johnson mentioned, to address that challenge.

But as far as the procurement strategy, which I think is at the base of your question, I’ll turn it over to the acquisition specialist to discuss that with you.


Thank you. Thank you, Congressman. Thank you for that question.

We have not yet detennined how we will procure the build of the Ohio replacement. It’s still a little bit to the right in our construct of thinking.

Virginia, obviously a success story under a teamed arrangement. Whether Ohio replacement follows on to that or actually does more of a prime/sub relationship, yet to be detennined. But I think it’s fair that as the acquirer I ask that we use the investments we put into the submarine industrial base to the maximum extent possible. We’ve built, as Admiral Breckenridge said, significant capacity, capability and confidence in our submarine industrial base, both at Groton, in Rhode Island as well as at Huntington Ingalls in Newport News.

And our intent is to leverage that to the max extent possible for Ohio replacement.


Very good. Well, thank you.

And I think your comments reflect how important the talent is with both of those great shipbuilders. And as you know, that industrial base is an important part of the two. So to seamlessly go into that next generation of ballistic missile submarines is an important element, I think, in the decisions y’all have to make.

Let me ask this: You’ve talked a lot about the attack class of submarines. Putting in perspective-we’ve talked a little bit about sequestration-let me ask you this in another envelope of having to make decisions. We’re now at a pretty significant rate of retirement of the Los Angeles class. So you take that and coupling what potentially the effects are of sequestration.

Give us your perspective about what both of those events colliding might mean for our attack class submarine fleet.


Yes, sir, thank you. As I mentioned, beginning in 2025 we’re gonna dip below the red line, the minimum agreed by all parties, break glass if you cross this line minimum force structure. We are gonna be below that line for a period of greater than a decade. The minimum right now with our current program of record of two per year Virginia construction is 42 submarines in approximately 2030.

The depth of the trough is not as significant to me as the width of the trough. So whatever I can do to soften that. And so our integrated strategy looks at-looks at that.

There’s three things I’d like to talk about to mitigate the risk when the Navy is below 48 SSNs. Number one is as I build Virginia class, you know, down at the 60-month point or less and get those to the fleet quicker, that will have an effect on that trough. That will give me more assets available during that time period. So any efficiencies that we can make with regard to the delivery schedule is a win.

The current Los Angeles class, we are carefully monitoring each hull, how much life is in their core, you know, what are their other systems health looking like to see if we can maybe get a year or two extension on the Los Angeles classes.

Again, I don’t like to talk about that as part of the plan because if we suddenly have an intense period where I’m surging submarines I’m gonna eat that margin. And so I sort of keep it as an ace in the hole.

The last thing that we’re at-and, you know, again it’s a combination of forward-deployed assets or looking-going from three attack submarine to four in Guam. We’re looking at extending deployments during that time period, from a nominal six-month deployment force to a seven-month deployment force. So there are a few other things that we can do to soften the blow of being below the minimum force structure.

But the critical things that we must do is as you mentioned, not decommission any submarines before their time. if there’s some cost efficiencies that we might see there in a sequestration-like myopic view of saving money or disrupting the two per year Virginia. And those are two very important parts of the strategy to take care of that shortfall.


Thank you, Mr. Chainnan. I yield back.


Gentleman, thank you for being here.

And I’d like to just make sure I have given each of you any additional time you need for-wrap up anything that we’ve left out that you think is important to have on the record, any clarifications that you would like to make. And Admiral Breckenridge, since you started off we’ll let you.


Well, Mr. Chainnan, again, I thank you very much for this opportunity to come this morning to showcase one of the things that is vibrant and healthy and a powerful part of our national security strategy, and that is our influence within the undersea domain.

You know, we’ve talked a lot about some dire things ahead as we look at risks coming up. But I want to emphasize on a positive note, as we wrap up today, that the men and women that man our nation’s undersea craft, our SSBNs, SSGNs and SSNs, are just incredible warfighters. Most recently we’ve opened the hatches to women on board submarines, on our SSGNs and our SSBNs. These officers are perfonning in incredibly exemplary fashion.

We are fortunate as a nation that our sons and daughters that we’re able to recruit and to bring into this very specialized field are talented and gifted as they are.

So your Submarine Force is out there doing great work, very important things. vital to the security. And undergirding that is this industrial base.

A history lesson as we sort of shut down the submarine industrial base post-Cold War, went for a period of eight years where we only built two submarines, that’s a quarter of a submarine a year. You know, those were dark times for our nation.

The fact that we’ve come through that and we now have this vibrant shipbuilding industrial base is we sort of cheated death, and we’re very fortunate that that is as healthy and moving in all the right positive directions.

And we need to preserve and protect that with every instrument of resources that we have as a nation.

So I know that we’re in tough fiscal times as a country, and we have to look at our decisions. But we’re doing everything within our power to try to come up with an integrated strategy to make sure that we don’t Jose our grip on this advantage that we have in the undersea domain.

So, sir, I thank you very much for the opportunity to speak with you this morning.


Thank you, Admiral.

Admiral Johnson?


Yes, sir. And, again, I’ll echo Admiral Breckenridge on thanking you for the opportunity to talk about the Submarine Force. It’s a pretty good day when we get to sit up here and talk about the programs and the progress that we’re making.

I do think it’s very important, as you have noted, that we sustain the drum beat we’ve established with Virginia. It was a bit of a climb to get in the ‘I I budget. As Congressman Courtney noted, we got to two a year through a good bit of the action this subcommittee took to get us in a position to be a two a year. We’re there, and we’re now seeing the benefits of it.

Ships are being delivered, not only earlier, but we’re also turning them over to Admiral Connor and the fleet forces earlier. One of our metrics is the time it takes to take a ship from a delivery and get it into the fleet readiness training program,

It took 30 months for a Virginia. On North Dakota, it will be less than I 2. So not only are we building them faster, but they’re ready to go to the fleet, full up, get ready for a mission and deploy, and do the nation’s bidding.

So I think that’s very important, that we do not disrupt this drum beat. And that drum beat isn’t just at HII or at Electric Boat, but it’s also in the 4,000 suppliers across the 50 states. It’s very important as we grow this competitive industrial base that we sustain the continuity of the Virginia program.

We also have to think, I think, a bit innovatively about Ohio replacement. As we get into the build of that, in sustaining at least a two-a-year build rate to the vendor base means that we might have to think about multiyearing across both a Virginia class and an Ohio class SSBN, so that the vendor base still sees two ship sets of something coming out every year.

That will help us to keep the continuity and the cost down, as we go into the build for Ohio replacement and not disrupt the pricing that I think you expect me to deliver on those ships.

I can tell you that we are leading the charge in affordability. We are at the forefront of implementing Secretary Kendall’s efforts. And every day my program offices, from the guys who do Virginias to Ohio replacements, to torpedoes, to combat systems, they think about it every day. And we hold ourselves accountable because, in the end, we are short if we deliver less capability to the fleet.

So my job is to build the products affordably that the fleet can use. And it’s not just talk; we have objective quality evidence, some of which I’ve talked about here today.

So I, again, thank you very much for the opportunity to talk.


Well, once again, we want to thank both of you. You’re very representative of the valuable assets we have in the United States Navy.

This subcommittee recognizes both of you as two of those valuable assets.

So thank you for giving us your time and expertise.

And with that, if there’s no additional questions, we’re adjourned.

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