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From The Day: Admiral: Navy needs better subs, and faster

Groton — The Navy is entering one of the most complex submarine-building eras since the 1970s, the admiral in charge of the service’s undersea warfare division said Friday at the U.S. Submarine Veterans Groton Base.

Rear Adm. Bill Merz, essentially the chief financial officer for the submarine force, a job which means he has oversight over a roughly $21 billion budget, gave a taste of his day-to-day thinking as part of the Nautilus Chapter of the Naval Submarine League’s luncheon speaker series.

The short version, he said, is growing adversaries and shrinking resources.

Merz reiterated a sports analogy used by Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations, to describe the competition the U.S. Navy faces: “He says that since the ’90s we’ve been in a very long off season. We’re slower. We’re gaining weight. We’re not as sharp as we used to be, and we need to fix that.”

Competition and the threat posed by our adversaries is what keeps Merz and other Navy brass up at night, he said.

But staying ahead of our adversaries does not all reside in building a better submarine, Merz said. “A lot of it is just our mentality on how we operate these submarines.”

He also would like to see the submarine-design process speed up.

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