The Navy is planning to build 12 ballistic missile submarines that are so pricey the service is facing a $60 billion shortfall between 2021 and 2035, yet many of the lawmakers overseeing the Navy appear to have no problem with that, writes Frank Oliveri in Roll Call.
Despite congressionally mandated automatic cuts in fiscal 2013 that are squeezing operations and maintenance accounts and have prompted civilian furloughs — and facing the prospect of yet another sequester in fiscal 2014 — key oversight lawmakers simply say the extra money must be found.
“The issue is not whether we do the Ohio-class [submarine] replacement program,” said J. Randy Forbes, R-Va., chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces. “The question is do we take it out of the hide of every other program [in the shipbuilding plan] or see it as a strategic asset and take it out of the Pentagon’s overall budget.”
Meanwhile, Oliveri further reports that the Navy views the Ohio-class replacement ballistic missile submarine as its top priority, indicating it would be prepared to slash other ship programs to build the 12 submarines it needs.
Senior congressional aides noted that the Navy would consider reducing its 11-aircraft carrier fleet before it would scale back its plans to replace the Ohio-class ballistic submarine.