The replacement for our aging fleet of Ohio-class nuclear missile subs is coming along, but it’s far from a sure thing:
“The Navy has been very good at supporting the cash flow requirements for the Ohio replacement, so we have the funding necessary to award the missile tubes [contract] next week” — the first major component of the sub to move from design to physical reality — “and keep up with the pace of design,” [Rear Adm. Dave] Johnson said. “[ORP program manager] Jack Evans is the master, and we’ve been able to convince the Pentagon we need to keep funding this thing despite the Continuing Resolution.”
Design work alone has already more than doubled from 2013 to 2014, Johnson said, and it’s just going to keep accelerating. The Navy’s ambitious goal is to complete more than 80 percent of the detailed three-dimensional blueprints before construction begins in 2021.
“We have to achieve a better than 80 percent design-complete because we have to build this thing in 84 months, two months shorter than the Virginia, and we have to deliver this thing in the water by 2028,” Johnson said. “That leaves us three years, a mere three years, to test, certify, do post-shakedown availability, get it to King’s Bay, load it out, and have it on patrol by 2031.”
That will be hard to achieve even with full and uninterrupted funding, which remains in question.
We just can’t afford to slack off on naval funding, procurement, and training.