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Joint Forces Journal

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VOL. 24 - NO. 39
OCT 13 - 20, 2019
PO BOX 13283
OAKLAND, CA 94661-0283

510.595.7777 FAX

Joint Forces Journal is published privately, and in no way is connected with DoD, the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard. This website and the printed newspaper are intended for the members of the Armed Forces and their families. Contents do not necessarily reflect official views of the U.S. Government, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard, and do not imply endorsements thereof. The marital status, physical handicap, political affiliation, or any other non-merit factor of the purchases, user or patron for advertisers prohibited. If a violation or rejection of this equal opportunity policy by an advertiser is confirmed, the publisher shall refuse to print advertising from that source until the violation is corrected. Editorial content is prepared and edited privately, and is provided by the Public Affairs Office of U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard installations. Correspondence and material for publication should be addressed to: Editor, Joint Forces Journal, P.O. Box 13283, Oakland, CA, 94661-0283. Deadline for receiving articles and photos is 3 p.m. Monday for publication on Friday of that week. Joint Forces Journal editorial policy is to use bylines and photo credits where applicable and when submitted.

Navy Outlines Plan to Solve Attack Submarine Shortage

Nov 30, 2018
by Matthew Cox
Lawmakers recently pressed U.S. Navy officials to explain what the service is doing to fix its shortage of attack submarines.

Navy officials testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee's subcommittee on Seapower that the service is on track to achieve a 355-ship fleet by 2034.

Lawmakers, however, were concerned about the more immediate problem of the Navy's submarine shortfall.

Sen. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, said that retired Adm. Harry Harris, former head of U.S. Pacific command, had testified that "only half his requirement for attack submarines in the Pacific theater was being met."

"This challenge will only grow worse in the 2020s as attack submarines retire at a faster rate," Rounds said. "How is the Navy planning to mitigate the attack submarine shortfall in the 2020s?"

James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, said the most "looming shortfall ahead of us in terms of capability is in attack subs."

Geurts said the service is ramping up Virginia-class submarine production to two per year, with the potential of producing more than two down the road.

The Navy is also looking at where it can do "service-life extensions on some of our existing submarines," he said.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, referring to a recent Government Accountability Office report on maintenance delays in the attack sub fleet, said that since "2008, 14 attack submarines have spent a combined 61 months -- 1,891 days -- idling while waiting to enter ship yards for maintenance."

"We need action now to address the backlog that is bad for our national security and the harmful impact on our industrial base," he said. "We have been talking about this maintenance backlog for a year with no clear solution in sight."

As part of a larger, 30-year ship repair/sustainment plan the Navy plans to release this year, Geurts said he intends to make submarines a high priority.

"Going forward under the new role this committee provided me to oversee sustainment readiness, I am really focused on getting predictability and advanced planning in the readiness area for ship repair, with a particular focus on submarines," he said.

Currently, the Navy has four submarines in "maintenance availabilities" and the service plans to award at least two more "into private yards" next year, Geurts said, adding that the requests for proposal for those efforts are scheduled to go out by next summer.

"My strategic approach to this is balancing out that work and getting predictability into the maintenance plan, so that we have capacity to get those ships both in and out of those availabilities on time, to give the combatant commanders the capability they need," he said.

* * * * *

Photo caption: The Virginia-class attack submarine USS Virginia (SSN 774) departs Naval Submarine Base New London for a six-month deployment. (U.S. Navy photo/Jason J. Perry)


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