RADM John Padgett: Our next speaker is here for the first time in his current assignment, and those of you who have been regular attendees at this event might say, “Golly, that position seems to be rolling on a fairly regular basis”, and I would agree that has been the case. But two things have been very consistent about the N97 position. One has been the quality of the officer that’s in the job. Their pedigrees have been exemplary, and their contribution has been aligned with what is best-needed at the moment in the Pentagon. Secondly, I think the intellect and the intellectual integrity of the individuals who have been in this job for the last couple of years has been singularly outstanding. Admiral Tofalo comes to us from Submarine Group Ten. He commanded USS MAINE, so he is intimately involved in the Ballistic Missile Strategic Deterrent mission. I think that, with Ohio Replacement being the top priority of the Submarine Force, having someone who is as eloquent and well-informed as Admiral Tofalo on the Ohio Replacement issues, I think, is a big plus for us. So, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to introduce OPNAV N97, Admiral Joe Tofalo.
Admiral, thank you very much for that very kind introduction. It’s an absolute thrill to be here and an extreme honor. I am extremely humbled by this opportunity to serve the Submarine Force in this capacity.
My goal this morning is to give you a notional fix, if you will, of the Submarine Force. Also, over the course of this conference, we’ll clearly be talking about some of the significant challenges facing us, so, I also want to give you some of the good news.
There were rocks and shoals that existed last year; many people are very familiar with them. It was a year ago, the 1st of March, 2013, that sequestration became the law of the land in the Budget Control Act. That took $21 billion from Navy TOA in FY ’14 and ’15, caused a 16-day government shutdown and the furloughing of approximately 650K government civilians. Imagine the challenges that created for somebody like Admiral Johnson and Admiral Jabaley with a workforce that is trying to do what they need to do to maintain our submarine programs.
There was an extensive Continuing Resolution and then the mini-deal, the Bipartisan Budget Agreement. That was great from the standpoint of the relief that it had, but there was churn there, too. We did the POM-15 budget for a fourth time as a result of the Bipartisan Budget Agreement. It’s good news, but it does cause churn because you want to get it right. You want to make sure you re-balance in a way that is appropriate and most effective.
Of course, the Washington Navy Yard shooting challenged, again, Admiral Johnson and his folks. That was no small thing to work around. The decommissioning of USS MIAMI was a bitter, bitter pill to have to swallow. Additionally, there are all the external threats that Admiral Connor referred to in his remarks. The SEVORODVINSK SSGN-you know she’s got an eight-pack in her VPM-like module, if you were counting them there on his slide. DOLGORUKY SSBN, there are two of those. The Bulva class SLBM is being tested. The Chinese have the SHANG-class, the JIN-class, and the JL2. When you roll it all up together, there are two countries on the planet that have two new SSBN submarines in the water and are testing a new ballistic missile, and neither one is the United States. Those are some external threats that we have to worry about, and when you combine that with last year’s events that I just mentioned, it’s very, very easy to be skeptical.
If we take a fix and look at our current position, as Admiral Connor told you earlier, there are a lot of good things going on in the Submarine Force. Admiral Richardson also said this last night; there are good things to take stock in. You cannot deny the fact that at the end of last year we landed on our feet. Ohio Replacement: fully funded at $1.1 billion in FY ’14. D-5 life extension: fully funded with $712 million in FY ’14. Virginia class: fully funded with $6.7 billion in FY ’14. VPM: fully funded, $59 million in FY ’14. The Virginia-class program and the Ohio Replacement program are the second and third-largest acquisition programs in the Department of Defense; second and third only to Joint Strike Fighter. That is good news, especially in light of the environment; the soundings, the potential shoals.
During the year, one sub was commissioned, and another was christened. Nine submarines are in some aspect of construction. USS MINNESOTA was delivered eleven months early. That’s absolutely amazing. We’ve got NORTH DAKOTA coming very soon behind that, on-track to also be ahead of schedule. When you consider she’s the first of the Block III’s, which is essentially a 20 percent design change in the bow and VPT, that’s absolutely eye-watering. My hat is absolutely off to Admiral Dave Johnson and his team for what they do. There are a lot of people in this room who are also part of that team. And, of course, Admiral Connor alluded to the Block IV contract, which is imminent—the largest shipbuilding contract in history.
So, again, a fix. Some tough times there in the year prior, but certainly a lot of great things that we should be very, very proud of, and happy for, given the potential for other results.
Let’s talk about an obvious question you may have, “Hey new guy, where are you coming from?” Many of you know me personally, probably 60 percent of you. I think at least 5 percent of you wrote a FITREP on me at one time! But just so it’s clear, the orders to the helm remain the same. We absolutely must have an uninterrupted, survivable nuclear deterrent. This is the Navy’s number one priority. You hear Admiral Greenert say that all the time. The President himself has said that as long as there are nuclear weapons the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.
Admiral Richardson talked last night about essentially deputizing everyone to go out and speak the good word when it comes to our programs. So let me remind you of some pertinent statistics to pass on. Right now, as we sit here today in this room, the United States Submarine Force is responsible for approximately half of our nation’s deployed nuclear warheads. And if that alone doesn’t impress you, what we’re saying is the other two legs of the triad combined are essentially equal to the United States Submarine Force by itself. Frankly, they’re a little bit less, combined. Ours is a force that is made up of about 8 percent of the Navy’s Officers Corps. There are more doctors and dentists in the Navy than there are submarine officers, so it’s very highly leveraged. As an American taxpayer you should be absolutely thrilled about the return on investment you get when it comes to the sea-based strategic deterrent.
In addition, although we’re about 50 percent now, under the New START Treaty, that number approaches approximately 70 percent. 70 percent of our nation’s deployed nuclear warheads will be on United States submarines. That is a big number; we have got to get this Ohio Replacement Program right. We have wrung every single ounce, every single efficiency out of the program. We have got to make sure it is uninterrupted, as Admiral Richardson and Admiral Connor have both said. You saw Admiral Connor’s little stair step chart. If you counted the blocks, it’ll be five Ohio class ships that will be gone away before that first Ohio Replacement comes online. Again, we have got to get this right. We have wrung every efficiency out of it. We went from 41 to 18 to 14 to 12. We went from 24 tubes to 16. We extended the service life from 30 to 42 years, so there’s 12 years as a first increment between classes. When you go from 18 to 12, that’s another 6, so now you’re at 18 years. And then you add in the two-year delay that we had, that’s 20 years. That’s why we’re going to 2031 instead of 2011. That’s the 20 years when you add it all up, essentially; because when that first Ohio got underway in ’81, we thought that 30 years later, in ’11, we’d be doing that next patrol on the next submarine—Ohio Replacement submarine.
But it’s going to be 2031. To do that in ’31, you’ve got to start construction in ’21. Everybody gets that ten-year period: seven years to build one, then load it out with weapons and certify—that all kind of makes sense. But it’s that time between now and 2021 which some don’t seem to understand. In some circles there’s a sense that people just think we can kind of pull an all-nighter in 2020 to get it done in 2021, and that’s not the case. That’s why we have all that R&D that I just mentioned up front. We want to achieve a goal of over 80 percent design complete in order to make sure that everything else can happen lockstep. This is a ship that’s two and-a-half times the size of the Virginia-class; yet, we’re going to build it in approximately the same amount of time. So, we’re making those investments up front now. The country has spoken. The administration has spoken. So, now it’s our part of this to make sure we get this Nuclear Deterrent right.
Our second priority is the Virginia-class itself at two per year. The President’s Defense Strategic Guidance says that we must maintain the undersea capability to ensure access to anti-access/area denial environments. To do that, we must have the force structure that gets us inside where we need to be. As Admiral Connor was explaining, the things that we’re expected to do on day one of several conflicts is a long list. We won’t be able to do that if we don’t have that access. Two per year for the Virginia-class is a big part of making sure we have the force structure needed to do that.
Again, some education to make sure you’re fully deputized to go out and spread the word. Our minimum SSN requirement is 48. We will go for approximately 11 years, from 2025 to 2036, with a force level below that minimum. We’ll drop to 42, unfortunately, in 2029, per the shipbuilding plan of record. Virginia-class production at two per year obviously isn’t going to fix that, but it will mitigate the problem. Unfortunately, between ’91 and ’98, we only built three submarines in this country. That’s a far cry from Admiral Richardson’s remarks last night about how we built 70 in the first 12 years of the program. And I think if you check it, it was between, like, ’55 and ’70 when I think we built 90 submarines in this country. Wow! The people in this room understand the challenges there, and we’re firmly committed to make Virginia-class two per year our number two priority.
Our number three priority is to deliver the payload capacity and the payloads to address future global security challenges. Virginia Payload Module is obviously the centerpiece of that. We’ve got to have it. Our target in 2019 is to have the Block V VIRGINIAs start with VPM. It’s absolutely crucial to make sure that we mitigate the 60 percent reduction in undersea strike volume that we will have when the SSGNs start to retire. All four of them go away in a three-year period in the late ’20s. That’s a 60 percent reduction in strike volume. VPM is not going to cover that whole 60 percent. Again, it’s to mitigate it. That’s why we’ve got to have VPM. It’s crucial and it’s cost-effective. You get greater than a three-times increase in the strike capacity of a Virginia-class boat (12 to 40 TLAMs), for less than 15 percent of the cost of the submarine. That’s return on investment. That’s a good deal, and as of December of last year—it is now a JROC—Joint Requirements Oversight Council validated requirement. So, we have a JROC-signed CDD on VPM. And I think it’s fair to say that the Virginia-class submarine is the world standard. But I’m not kidding myself that we don’t have to evolve to make sure we stay apace of the threat. And we’ll talk about that a little bit more when I get into payloads.
Finally, I want to say that the Integrated Undersea Future Strategy, which was conceived by Admiral Connor, Admiral Bruner and Admiral Breckenridge, remains in effect. I do see some point in my tenure, the need for what I’ll call an adjustment for set and drift, making sure that it’s consistent with Admiral Connor’s Undersea Dominance Campaign Plan, which is full-spectrum, all maritime platforms, all capabilities. So, that’s just something that I am thinking about. But the IUFS is a solid navigation plan, and we’re on track here with these orders to the helm.
The area that has my greatest attention beyond the top three priorities of ORP, Virginia two per year and VPM would be as it says on this slide influence beyond the platform. This includes both unmanned undersea vehicles and weapons. Like Admiral Connor said, I would prioritize something beyond the current heavyweight torpedo—and we’ll talk about that here in a minute—as being our very highest priority in that whole kit that he was talking about.
We are counting on UUVs in the future to supplement our manned forces and extend our reach. UUVs are key to the transition from a platform-centric, undersea dominance approach to a domain-centric, undersea dominance approach. Their missions include ISR, indication and warning, undersea sensing, mine warfare, deception, lethal and non-lethal covert effects; the list goes on.
For those of you that don’t know about it, and I’m sure there are people in the room who know a lot about it; Project 1319 is a Remus 600 vehicle that did its third successful at sea demonstration last March. It had seven out of seven successful captures, two full mission profiles, excellent acoustic comms and tracking performance. I think it’s fair to say that this is a proven capability that’s now in the fleet commander’s hands. Stay tuned for real-world applications of this ability. It’s very, very exciting stuff.
Admiral Connor, next has some Undersea Rapid Capability Initiatives that we’re also working on. What Admiral Connor is doing here is absolutely fantastic. He’s reaching across the S&T gap and pulling things across in a manner that is trying to get stuff out there faster. The goal for all of his projects is less than two years for getting these out to the fleet. Some of those include taking that same 1319 type vehicle, putting it in a TLAM capsule, and now every submarine is a UUV-capable platform; a pretty ingenious approach. There are six total Rapid Capabilities Initiatives. I won’t go into all those, but there are some near-term things that we’re working hard to find ways to fund and make happen.
Heavyweight torpedo production restart is one of the things what Admiral Connor alluded to. This has the highest priority. Now, first things first. I’ve got to hit the inventory objective. We have a 30 percent in our submarine heavy weight torpedo inventory. As much as I’d like to build a super modular torpedo right now that would just be the greatest, we don’t have the time for that. Frankly, we’ve got to get the bullets on the shelf needed to satisfy the inventory requirement, and the heavyweight torpedo restart is the approach to doing that. The MOD7 ADCAP is a great weapon, but there are parts of it that are the same weapon that many of us shot our whole careers. So, we’ve got to get after that. I know I’ve got to do that faster so that we can get to the modularity piece that is really needed to take it to the next level.
Admiral Connor alluded to a panel—a review panel—that we’re putting together. It is the Heavyweight Torpedo Restart and Future Modular Undersea Vehicle Review Team. I know that’s amouthful, but Admiral Johnson and I are going to sign a charter here this week to get that team going. They’re chartered to ensure that we are restarting the line correctly, and more importantly, to ensure that we get the future capability needs right and the associated weapons requirements right. This includes all aspects of technology; taking advantage of a technology push; current S&T investments that are out there; leveraging off the lightweight torpedo work; and, of course, modularity.
There are a lot of efforts that are going on out there. ONR has their extended-range MUHV FNC, Modular Undersea Heavy-weight Vehicle Future Naval Capabilities. They have another FNC for alternate ASUW. They have another FNC for fusing. DARPA has their Blue Wolf extended-range propulsion project. NUWC and Penn State are working on one of Admiral Connor’s four Undersea Rapid Capability Initiatives. That’s Team Number Four, where they’re working on a SCEPS engine-type propulsion system, advanced payloads, and also some comms and advanced navigation aspects. So there’s a lot going on that we need to bring together, Admiral Johnson and I are looking to this panel to help us do that, and to get the heavyweight torpedo restart under way so we can hit the objective. Also with those great minds, we need to look into the future and leverage all the other things to ensure we build the right weapon for the future.
Submarine and Special Operations Forces also have a lot going, and we are very excited about it. First off, we want to extend the dry deck shelter with a 50-inch extension. This does a couple things for us. One, it gets the diver out of there, because right now all the launch and recovery operations are diver-assisted. Extending the dry deck shelter allows us to automate it: automatic door, automatic tray. It gets the diver out of the loop at a very tactically vulnerable time for the submarine. Those of you who have done those kinds of operations know exactly what I’m talking about.
In addition to all that, because it’s longer you can handle, ultimately, a longer UUV and a longer SOF vehicle, but also a larger diameter, because the diver doesn’t have to be part of the equation. So, better bore size, better length—all better.
We want to make sure that’s compatible, both, with the SOF SWCS vehicle, the Shallow Water Combat Submersible; and also, ultimately, with N2N6’s; LDUUV, Large Diameter Unmanned Undersea Vehicle, which is the program of record. It can be a little bit confusing because ONR also has a LDUUV Innovative Naval Prototype—number 3 was in the Pentagon parking lot about a month ago. They are different vehicles. So, that’s kind of where I see that going for the near term.
LDDUV integration with Virginia payload module obviously is going to be further down the line. What we want to do there is get ULRM off top dead center. It’s been challenged from a funding perspective. I’m very confident, and I’m pushing hard to get a demo for ULRM, Universal Launch and Recovery Module—for those who aren’t familiar with that acronym—in the spring of next year. It’ll be on an SSGN, because that’s what we have set up. For the long term we’ll focus the future of ULRM on VPM as the vision, because VPM is the future of our Submarine Force. When the SSGNS go away in the mid- to late ’20s, we want to make sure that we have a future for UUV from VPM that has legs. So, I see ULRM as key to that. And to put the U in ULRM, we want to make it handle, again, the SOF vehicle—the SWCS, Shallow Water Combat Submersible—and the large-diameter UUV.
Regarding LDUUV and submarine integration, I want to let you know we’re working very hard with all of the stakeholders involved, and there are many. N2N6 is the resource sponsor for LDUUV; not N97. So, we have to make sure we loop them in. N96 also has a piece, because that same program of record for LDUUV is not going to be for three variants (sub landed, surface landed, land landed), if you will, trying to avoid the Joint Strike Fighter analogy for UUVs. But instead, one that can be launched from a submarine and also from, say, LCS. So, we want to make sure they’re all in on it and we’re all synergized. And, of course, SOCOM is a big partner in that. In fact, they are funding a lot of the work on the extended DDS, which has shown that they have skin in the game for that. So, that’s great stuff.
I thought it would be good to share with you what I see as some of the LDUUV guiding principles, because I figured probably somebody would ask me the question anyway. Again, this is Joe Tofalo’s view. I’ve still got to work socializing these, but this what I see as I approach the UUV scenario.
First off, I’d say that a UUV has to be a tactical tool for the submarine to enhance its performance, reduce risk and extend reach. If the care and feeding of this UUV is something that’s going to cause the submarine CO to have to stop doing his mission and worry about extensive care for the UUV, then this thing has not become the force multiplier that we need it to be. If it becomes a time and energy sump for the CO, that won’t be helpful.
As we look at the SSN trough, that 11-year period where we drop below 48, certainly one of the things that will help us mitigate that is having a UUV on an SSN that can do that force multiplication stuff that we’ve been talking about. So, that’s kind of my first guiding principle.
Second, I’d say that it needs to be capable of multiple sorties while on a given ship deployment. If we can’t recharge the thing—you know, it can’t be a one-hit wonder—then, that’s not going to be helpful either.
The sorties have to be of long enough duration to permit host platform flexibility. For example, the host submarine may have to delay its rendezvous. If that’s not built into the ability of the system to do that, then, again, it’s not going to help the submarine captain extend his reach and be that force-multiplying aspect that the skipper needs it to be.
I see every one of them as having to have a standard sensor C2 kit that’s capable of basic functionality. I think we have to avoid Aegis type UUVs, at least for kind of the standard notional fleet of ten of these. And I think it has to have built into it, organic to it, some weight and space allowance for dispensable payloads that can be restocked underway. That’s where you would bring in the uniqueness to the vehicle, whether that be devices to mark a bottom return, or unique communication or surveillance devices.
So, that’s kind of Joe Tofalo’s aspirational view of it all.
And then, finally we are excited about the opportunities with other payloads. There are numerous options on the table, from conventional prompt strike to missiles that are used in other parts of the Department of Defense, to lasers, cyber effects, et cetera.
So, all that is on the table. Again, I am not going to lie to you; FY’16 is going to be challenging. I think the Secretary of Defense clearly laid out in his remarks on Monday where he pretty much said to anyone who was listening—Congress and the American people—that if we don’t have certain relief from sequestration, there are things we are not going to be able to do.
Stay tuned. We are on it. I’d like to tell you that it is not a question of if; it is only a question of when. We’ve got a great team working it. A lot of that team is in this room, and I thank all of you for that. And that is my story and I am sticking to it.
I think my time is up. Well, thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to you today. I look forward to working with you as we continue to make the U.S Submarine Force the greatest Submarine Force in the world.