A spike in demand for the Navy’s attacks submarines, just ahead of a spate of decommissionings and a dip in new SSN construction, is leading the Navy to look at some previously unthinkable measures to mitigate the upcoming shortfall in the fleet.
Those measures include extending the life of some legacy boats and increasing submarine production despite the cost and workforce strain the Ohio Replacement Program will put on the Navy and industry.
The Navy has known it would face a trough in its attack submarine fleet since before 2006, when analysis was done that led to the 48 SSN requirement. Since that time, however, demand for the platform has gone up and funding has gone down, making a tough situation even more dire, Navy officials told USNI News.
Even though the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget request released in early February called for just one attack submarine to be built in 2021 – a deviation from the current two-a-year build rate to accommodate the construction of the first Ohio Replacement Program ballistic missile submarine – just two weeks later officials floated the idea of trying to find money to buy back that second attack sub.