Sequestration poses minimal threat to Ohio-class replacement subs

Navy officials said Tuesday the budget cuts associated with sequestration will have a minimal effect on the Ohio-class submarine replacement program.

The service is in the early phases of developing a class of high-tech, next-generation Ohio-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. Budget adjustments due to sequestration will for the Navy to synchronize elements of the technology development phase but not largely impact the program, program managers said at the Sea Air Space Exposition at National Harbor, Md. 

“The next contract for the lead ship will be for fiscal year ‘17, which we expect to award in December of 2016. It will be for detailed design and construction,” said Capt. Bill Brougham, program manager, Ohio-class submarine replacement program.

The original nuclear-powered Ohio-class submarines, built in the late 1970s, will begin to retire by 2029. The acquisition strategy for the replacement program will call for competitive prototyping in order to mature the technologies and lower risk prior to moving into the next-phase of development, Brougham said.

Brougham explained that current plans for the ship call for the program to go before the Joint Requirements Oversight Council in 2015 and move into the next phase by 2016.

The Navy awarded General Dynamics’ Electric Boat Division a $1.85 billion contract for the development of the Ohio-Class Replacement Program. Navy leaders hope to build 12 new ballistic missile submarines out of the program to replace the 14 existing Ohio-class submarines.

The $1.85 billion will obviously not cover the entire development, but it’s a boost for a program that Navy officials have listed as its top priority.

Navy acquisition officials worked a series of incentives into the cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. They were included by Naval Sea Systems Command to motivate General Dynamics in a sector they don’t face much competition.

The U.S. Navy is partnering with the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense for the development of a key part of the submarine’s technology, the common missile compartment.

“The common missile compartment is a joint program signed up with the British government. They are paying for the design and have a cost share to buy into the program. We’re progressing and we have lots of reviews and we’re making good on our commitments,” said Brougham.

About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior.
  • Big-Dean

    Why does it appear that the submarine branch of the Navy seem to have their act
    together, whereas the surface and tacair branches seem to be the ‘dumb and dumber’ side of the family with the little crappy ship LCS, and F-35 budget black hole? It makes me wonder.

    • blight_

      Because they’re repenting from the Seawolf cost over-run debacle.

      Seawolf and VA. 50% success rate.

      • Big-Dean

        perhaps so, but at least they learned their lesson and and changed course for the better with the highly successful Virginia class, I have yet to see any “learning” on the Surface or Tacair side. The Surface side seems the most screwed up

        -they sunk all of the Spruance class destroyers for no good reason
        -they defanged the Perry class, now it’s nothing but a large gun boat
        -San Antonia class-need I say more
        -Ford class-over budget
        -Cut the DDG-1000 class down to three hulls thus increasing costs dramatically
        -Burke flight II has no towed array nor Harpoon missiles, i.e. no ASW and ASuW capability, how are they supposed to fight other ships?
        -there’s no cruiser replacement in sight
        -we down to only 10 carriers
        -the biggest sin of them all- the LCS: the little crappy ship, a do nothing budget black hole

        • BishopOne

          I understand where you’re coming from with your concers, however now and days ship to ship combat is rare compared to old days where large deck guns were part of the deciding factor of who could dish out the most damage. In today’s day in age its about small tactical ships with high prescision missiles and sooner of later (railguns/laser) that can crriple or destroy another vessel and maintan the ability to provide sea to land or sea to air strike capabilites.

          Anyways that how I see it.

          • blight_

            The question may be why guns aren’t viable anymore. Guns lack the accuracy at the expected ranges of modern combat. I suppose with good ISR and GPS-guided rounds, one could bracket a sea target and lead rounds on target.

            They’re also short-ranged…to a point. The big high-speed missiles tend to have a range of <100km. So the AGS is definitely outranged here, as is every other surface platform. There are mitigating factors, such as salvo rates and sustained fire rates, but he who shoots first, shoots first.

        • blight_
        • JZG
        • JZG
        • JZG
        • JZG
        • JZG
      • William_C1

        Considering the Seawolf was cut to three boats and then somebody had the idea to drastically modify one of them, did that program even get much of a chance to repent itself?

        The DDG-1000 seems to be a repeat of Seawolf. Hopefully that means DDG-1000’s “replacement” will be as successful as the Virgina class SSNs have been.

        • blight_

          I have nothing against the Jimmy Carter mod. We needed it to replace the Parche et al.

          If anything, we may need to modify the other two, and use the Seawolf class as our covert ops boat.

          Seawolf’s problem was that it followed the usual formula: bundling R&D and procurement in the same hull. The previous system was to invest in prototype boats (like the Triton, and other prototype boats) and use upgrade programs to mature technology before you applied them to a new class. By bundling things, you get more product faster, but also more risk. I suspect they never figured out what to do with their white elephant prototype subs, but they were cheaper than investing in a whole class of white elephants.

          Seawolf’s cost explosion paved the way for Virginia’s success. Many technologies were paid for on Seawolf’s back. If Seawolf had been a humble one-off and incremental, it would’ve served out its days as a loner prototype to a submarine of intermediate technology between 688i and the Virginias.

          • Bob


            Maybe we need something along the lines of this?

          • blight_

            Nope. 20 mile range from a 16″ apparently won’t cut it against enemies that can strike on equal footing, or may have access to anti-ship cruise missiles.

            A little more range in lieu of a little more firepower can be a healthy thing.

          • Belesari

            10 in sabot rounds that can hit 100 mi in range. VLS cells in the back for TLAM. All types of goodness. And so much torp protection the smaller ones of today are useless.

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            Until we can get a small, highly effective anti-missile defense system (preferably a laser), we will not have battleships. “Battlewagons” can only be used in a beach landing as of right now, as what else would you use 16in guns for? Really, a future battleships is a nice thought I support. But we need anti-ship missile defense. Now, supposing we have this tech, I would say that the ship would be shaped like a Zumwalt, missiles lining the perimeter of the deck, rail-guns instead of, well, cannons/guns, and batteries of laser missile defense systems.

        • ruger

          1. seawolf is a great boat; for the cost?
          2. There was a complete disconnect between the designers/engineers and the manufacturing line: meaning when changes are introduced at that rate it costs money to adjust/make corrections. If they could have made more boats maybe they could have redeemed themselves.

          Clearly an example of the need to manage feature creep. I believe they learned much from this from all aspects.

  • Lance


    If no design will be selected by 2017 none entering service till 2029 the threat of current money makes no problems.

  • Dr. G

    Oh good, the least important and most expensive program will be immune to cuts. We haven’t needed the triad for decades, if we ever did in the first place.

    • Big-Dean

      wow-what a statement “Dr?”

      we have “needed the triad for decades” well duh Dr. that the ENTIRE point of the program, if we actually had to nuke someone then that means the ‘deterrence’ didn’t work.

      so let’s just retire all of the triad and see how long it takes for N Korea and Iran, or even China and Russia to lobe a few nukes our way-they’d do it in a heart beat

      • Dr. G

        Couple problems there, Big Dimwit. First they would have to have nukes. Then they would have to ignore the thousands of warheads we have in the form of bombs, cruise missiles, and ICBMs. Yeah, your concern is completely warranted. Let’s gut the social safety net further to pay for weapons which, if used, would mean the end of civilization anyway.

        • STemplar

          I’d give you the other legs of the triad to keep the subs. Much more useful.

          • Juuso

            Minuteman III silos are a lot cheaper to operate if compared to subs, of course they are more vulnerable to surprise attack than sub roaming in sea, but does that really matter since US has good early warning network? Minuteman III’s will be launched before enemy missiles reach the silos and every potential enemy knows that.

          • Dr. Strangelove

            Problem then would be if the early warning capabilities were knocked out or somehow made unreliable. Anything that runs via software code can be hacked (just a matter of time) and sometimes, without even knowing it until too late.

          • Benjamin

            One other major problem with what Juuso said. What happens if the early warning network is hacked or does not work. SSBN’s give you the opportunity not to retaliate before you know for positive that you are under nuclear attack. If you do not use an ICBM, you will lose it during the initial attack..

          • Fred

            Let’s cut to the chase–subs are the only reliably survivable arm of the trident, period. ‘Nuff said. Sheesh!

          • Fred

            I meant triad–now I sound as dumb as Dr. G!

          • STemplar

            Yes but you can’t torpedo a ship with one or deliver Delta Force off some coast or shadow enemy ships. Subs are vastly more useful.

        • Nadnerbus

          The entire defense budget could be cut to zero, and at least before the recent tax increase, we would still be borrowing money. Don’t know what the numbers will be after.

          It doesn’t have to be bombs or butter.

        • KTD

          Dear Dr Duhh,
          How can we lob TLAMS,ICBMS andSLBMS if YOU take away the TRIAD? You never served a day in ANY of the services did you?

      • Dr. G

        Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a
        Lisa: That’s spacious reasoning, Dad.
        Homer: Thank you, dear.
        Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
        Homer: Oh, how does it work?
        Lisa: It doesn’t work.
        Homer: Uh-huh.
        Lisa: It’s just a stupid rock.
        Homer: Uh-huh.
        Lisa: But I don’t see any tigers around, do you?
        [Homer thinks of this, then pulls out some money]
        Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.

        • Big-Dean

          your quite the homilist. Dr.

          • Father Guido

            Hey… who’re you callin’ a homo, BigDean? ;)

          • Big-Dean


        • Musson

          Dear Dr.

          You want to be funny? Hire a writer.

    • KTD

      It means the TRIAD worked ya Bone head. Now you should look up the definition of MAD….

    • Jim

      Dr. G, you are a complete moron. It’s obvious you know completely nothing about strategic deterence. FYI, the Submarines are the MOST important element of the Triad, especiallly since the other 2 elements of the triad have been downsized so much in the past decades. I hope you enjoy your freedom that this “useless” triad has afforded you!! Do some research before you post your immature and uneducated comments next time.

  • Fred

    Sequestration represents approximately a 3% cut in DoD’s bloated budget, so I certainly would hope the Navy can limp by on only 97% of its usual spending………..

    • WRG001

      I don’t know why someone would vote you down on this. The FACT is that defense spending is bloated. Many of the same posters on and rail against rampant spending, wasted $$ on contract(ors) etc, but then defend the budget as a cornerstone to our society. Pre-9/11 levels adjusted for inflation are more than adequate. No more major wars of OUR choosing will go a long way toward budget reduction that is manageable as well…lets face it, logistics costs, human capital related costs and reconstitution of the armed forces is going to be a decades long and costly affair draining funds from necessary program development, R&D, etc…that’s our bed and we need to sleep in it…but, we can. It’s the world that will learn to suffer in the vacuum of what was US military presence and protection…sea lanes, resource protection, human rights, etc…so, I don’t know that you [Fred] and I agree on anything, but your comment standing on its own is appropriate.

  • Frank

    The SSBN fleet is essential to Sea power and Nuclear detterence. The fact that when one of the SSBNs is out to sea, it is the 3rd largest nuclear power in the world says a lot. As for the “3%” cut you may wanna check your facts. I am pretty sure the DoD voluntarily cut 10% before when all the talks were happening to show that they were willing to help the issue and now they are going to cut more money? I would ask you Fred, do you care about your safety that is afforded to you by the military? I am not saying that there is too much money being spent but lets look to other areas to cut from so we can keep our military forces ready for what comes at us. I still find it disgusting that a congressman makes $175,000 or so to start, does a few years and then gets full retirement for the rest of his life. Why do they never offer to cut their pay? their benefits? Just a thought.

    • KrazyCOL

      Frank, u a dolphin wearin’ man are ya?

    • Jim

      The stuff I’m able to dig up shows that defense took a 7.9% cut in their budget, What get’s interesting is how you figure out what a cut is.
      The defense actual was @ 780 billion in ’08, 880 in ’11 and is projected to be whittled down to 816b by 2018. So, yea, it’s come down a little, but is still well above their 2008 levels.

      The real crisis seems to be that we are spending poorly. I think there are a lot of programs that don’t fit the current or anticipated mission.

  • KrazyCOL

    What happened to the 1st amendment?

  • KrazyCOL

    I’ve got a great idea, instead of spending billions, if not trillions on a new ssbn, why don’t you submariners do a slep on the ohio class. This GD only program coupled w/the brits sounds like what BUSH I said of the whole sub constuct. program, just a jobs machine. Do a slep on the 18 tridents like u did on the Big E, get another 20 yrs out of them boats! it will keep EB div of GD busy + a least one naval shipyard, and split the virgina class new contruction between EB & NPNSB 1 per/yr….what a concept!…..saving billions for much needed fleet improvments!……The ghost of ADM R lives on………with the o8 mafia in the shadows

    • riceball

      I’m not sure that a SLEP would work for a sub, aside from the all of the radiation hitting the hull and shielding you also have to factor in the stresses that the hull takes in everyday operations. Every time a sub dives and surfaces the hull is undergoing tremendous stress first contracting as the pressure pushes on the hull as it goes deeper then when it starts to surface the pressure lets up and the hul starts expand back to its original state and a sub does that how many times in the span of a typical patrol? I’m not saying that it can’t be done, I’m just not certain that it can be done short of a complete overhaul that includes completely replacing every square inch of hull plating.

  • Dennis

    It would cost less if they took an existing Virgina Class sub and put in a missile section with all the electronics needed to fire the missiles.