Thursday, June 15, 2017

Is Ohio Class Replacement An Investment

Originally Published March 19, 2013; Last Updated June 15, 2017; Last Republished june 15, 2017:

A recent navy post makes the incredible assertion that the Ohio-class replacement platform is an "...essential investment for our nation..."—expenditure of billions of dollars that returns a rusting radioactive steel cylinder after 42 years doesn't have the typical attributes of an investment.



Moreover, after 42 years the "investment" must be sealed, buried and monitored for hundreds of years, incurring additional expenditures!

Surely, this "investment" requires more justification than reasserting standard bogeymen and committing that the Ohio-class replacement team will act responsibly and hold-down expenditures1?

Before incurring additional billions for more stealthiness to ensure survivability we should debate whether our future prosperity and survivability depend more on transparency than stealthiness?

Res:

UPDATED 05/26/2017 Navy, SCN Book 2017 (FY 2018 Budget Estimates)
UPDATED 02/27/2017 Navy, SCN Book 2016
UPDATED 10/07/2016 CRS, Navy Columbia Class (Ohio Replacement) Program, Oct 2016
UPDATED 09/13/2016 FissileMaterial, Conceptual Research and Development Plan for Low-Enriched Uranium Naval Fuel and FissileMaterial, Report On Low Enriched Uranium for Naval Reactors' Cores  and NAP, Reducing the Use of Highly Enriched Uranium in Civilian Research Reactors (2016)
UPDATED 03/10/2016 CRS, Navy Ohio Replacement (SSBN[X]) Ballistic Missile Submarine Program: Background andIssues for Congress

Includes the text of 10 U.S.C. 2218a, National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund (NSBDF), an off navy balance sheet appropriation and accounting gimmick to fund the SSBN(X). And unsurprisingly a significant amount of estimated cost saving assumes the creation of the NSBDF!

Congress must hold more meaningful4 public hearings and publish detailed data and assumptions, which forms the basis for the SSBN(X) current cost estimates (e.g. 22% cost-to-weight improvement over Virginia-class; Virginia-class commonality cost saving, etc.)

UPDATED 03/01/2016 FAS, Status of World Nuclear Forces
UPDATED 02/10/2016 SecNav, Proposed 2017 Obligation Authority, Ohio-Class-Replacement, Adv. Procurement 2017-2021
UPDATED 02/09/2016 FAS, Declassified: US Nuclear Weapons At Sea
UPDATED 01/16/2016 CSIS, Chinese Strategy and Military Modernization in 2015: A Comparative Analysis#Figure 10.7: Force Structure of the PLA Navy 1985-2015-Part I; Submarines

UPDATED 01/14/2016 CRS, Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans:Background and Issues for Congress (courtesy FAS)
UPDATED 01/06/2016 NavyCNO, A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority
UPDATED 08/03/2015 Wikipedia, Ohio Replacement Submarine
UPDATED 03/19/2015 FAS, Naval Nuclear Propulsion: Assessing Benefits and Risks
UPDATED 01/19/2014 BOS, US nuclear forces, 2014 and FAS, New START Data Shows Russia Reducing, US Increasing Nuclear Forces
UPDATED 12/21/2013 CBO, Projected Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2014 to 2023  (check annual updates for latest revisions) and CBO, Long-Term Implications of the 2014 Future Years Defense Program and CBO, An Analysis of the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2014 Shipbuilding Plan

UPDATED 05/06/2013 FAS, Russian SSBN Fleet: Modernizing But Not Sailing Much

"...Rather than opposing further reductions, U.S. lawmakers should support limitations on the growing asymmetry between U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear forces – an asymmetry that is significantly in the U.S. advantage – to help limit further concentration of nuclear warheads on Russia’s declining numbers of strategic missiles. That would actually help the national security interests of all."2--FAS--

Web:


UPDATED 06/15/2017 U.S. Navy, On Our Depth One-Six-Zero Feet


UPDATED 05/26/2017 HASC, FY18 Priorities for Nuclear Forces & Atomic Energy Defense Activities


UPDATED 05/23/2017 Navy, Department of the Navy Releases Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Proposal FY2018 proposes to fully fund the Columbia-class platforms program!? (article provides links for those wanting to drill down--$19.9B for ship building!) and Navy, Secretary Mabus Names Three Vessels During Ceremony and SecNav, DON Budget Materials FY2018 and DoD FY 2018 Budget Estimates May 2017 Navy Justification Book Volume 1 of 1 Shipbuilding and Conversion, Navy (pdf 2.8M)
Courtney Statement On Navy Budget and Seapower, HASC Seapower Leaders Optimistic on Submarine Construction Industrial Base

Curiously, the article announcing the navy's FY2018 budget release states that the Columbia-class program is fully funded: "...fully fund the critical Columbia-class Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN) program..."?


The above presentation does not mention that the $49.5B proposed procurement budget includes a fully funded Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine platform program? The rear-admiral does mention National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund, which is a five-year (FY2022) off-navy-budget account to temporarily park funds for Columbia-class advance procurement and construction of: bow, Xstern, hull, missile control, joint British common missile compartment tubes, propulsion plant, propulsor prototype, weapons, weapons handling, air conditioning unit, diesel generator set, and reverse osmosis unit etc. for submarine platforms SSBN 826 (lead platform), 827, 828 and 829.

It seems our navy and its boosters on the Seapower Subcommittee et al. intend to build an entire new class of submarine using an opaque off-budget National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund account? When are these accumulating costs returning to a budget? which budget? how much?

The stated justification is to "improve the probability of on time delivery" of the lead Columbia-class platform!

UPDATED 05/04/2017 CAP, The Case Against New Nuclear Weapons and  Brookings, Assuring a ready fleet: A discussion with Admiral John Richardson and Brookings, How to Ensure That the U.S. Navy Remains Effective


UPDATED 04/09/2017 SeaPowerMag, VCNO Moran: Columbia SSBN On Schedule, But Margin is Tight
UPDATED 04/01/2017 USDEF,Stratcom Commander Speaks at Conference of Military Reporters, Editors Association Conference, March 31, 2017

No, General John E. Hyten our nuclear weapons are not "just high explosives" they are nuclear weapons and your profession is not peace, your profession is war!!! The general fits well within our "new" alt-white-house et al. where up is down; facts are fake; chemical reaction are nuclear; peace is war...5 etc.



...and General Curtis LeMay is not a poster boy for a costly strategic triad upgrade but the need for free press oversight of our military and decreasing our obscene stockpiles of nuclear weapons (or as you prefer to call them high explosives), particularly during the period our "new" alt-white-house is governing or more accurately not governing.

UPDATED 01/27/2017 PopSci, The Nuclear Arsenals of China and the U.S.
UPDATED 01/19/2017 InsideDef, Navy formally announces Columbia-class milestone decision A mini-design decision, which says we kinda know what we're buying, accompanied by a [big] "ballpark" guess about its cost along with many laments over how to "find the money" to pay for their lowball guess.

Here's how the submarine platform's biggest booster, Representative Courtney, (CT-02) describes it: Columbia-Class Achieves 'Milestone B' As The National Sea Based Deterrence Fund Comes Online and the hometown newspaper CTMirror, Navy moves forward on new Columbia-class submarines.

UPDATED 12/17/2016 USNI, Dec. 14, 2016 executive summary of the Navy’s 2016 Force Structure Assessment
UPDATED 12/16/2016 USNI, Navy Wants to Grow Fleet to 355 Ships; 47 Hull Increase Adds Destroyers, Attacks Subs and Navy, Secretary of the Navy Announces Need for 355-ship Navy


The Navy's 2016 Force Structure Analysis (FSA) did not come with the SecNav's FSA announcement—for now all we can say is our navy is asking Santa Claus to deliver a lot of Christmas presents! Even Santa Claus is constrained by budget and funding levels!


UPDATED 07/08/2016 CSIS, Delivering on the Future of Submarine Warfare


Navy (N97 and PEO Submarines) presents some general expectations for the Ohio-class replacement platform.

UPDATED 05/10/2016 SI Opinion, Scale back U.S. nuclear weapons and stop a new arms race

UPDATED 03/30/2016 SeaPower, Navy Selects Electric Boat as Prime for New SSBN and Reuters, U.S. names General Dynamics prime contractor for new submarines

UPDATED 04/02/2016 PBS, As Pentagon overhauls nuclear triad, critics advise caution and PBS Newshour Takes On The Holy Nuclear Triad and POTUS Nuclear Security Summit Press Conference (comments @ ~32:00 on U.S.-Russia sustain or reduce nuclear inventory)

Bill Perry is being very generous when he refers to our present nuclear strategic lunacy as "belt and suspenders for the belts and suspenders". The current nuclear strategic lunacy has more to do with the past balance of petulant service chiefs than any current balance of nuclear terror, retaliatory and probability-of-kill mathematics.

Let's immediately begin eliminating all ground and air based ICBMs and platforms, go slow on scaling down the Ohio-class replacement platform and get serious about the elimination of all nuclear weaponry.

UPDATED 02/29/2016 Brookings, Uncharted seas: Maritime strategy for a new era of naval challenges (video) and USNI, Navy Revising Force Structure Assessment In Light Of Increased Attack Sub, Other Ship Needs
UPDATED 02/03/2016 Reuters, Exclusive: U.S. budget plan includes over $13 billion for new submarine - sources Hopefully, a lot more details and a lot less hyperbole will follow to inform our desire for de-extincting and bulking up these "Cold War" dinosaurs?

UPDATED 01/14/2015 SeaPower, NAVSEA Commander: Navy is 10 Subs Below its Needs

NavSea will always be "X" number of subs below that required to conduct the nation's business.

UPDATED 01/14/2016 Diplomat, Pentagon Approves Request for Proposals for US Navy’s Next-Generation Ballistic Missile Submarine
UPDATED 01/05/2015 USN, The Navy's new leader says a nuclear force second to none is essential to US survival and JT, Top U.S. admiral sees ‘nuclear punch’ from submarines key to America’s survival

Our nuclear budgets must be supported with transparent facts and reasoned analysis, not oxymoronic hyperbole. (A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority@page 6)

UPDATED 08/08/2015 SeaPower, Richardson: New Ballistic-Missile Sub ‘Absolutely Critical’ for the Country (also, Chief of Naval Operations Confirmation Hearing and Advance Questions for Admiral John M. Richardson, USN Nominee for the Position of Chief of Naval Operations)

UPDATED 08/01/2015 PBSNewsHour, Can U.S. afford plan to buy 12 nuclear-armed subs? The short answer is NO!



UPDATED 06/08/2014 NTI, Senate Bill Would Create Separate Fund for New Trident Submarine

The price of navy weapons platforms (and weapons) are on a half parabolic trajectory requiring our navy to seek new and additional funding sources. Instead of addressing these stratospheric prices within its current shipbuilding budget our navy and congressional budgeteers are seeking to off-load the entire weapons platform to another funding source external to our navy's current shipbuilding plan and budget.

Fortunately, those seriously seeking to control or reduce the stratospheric prices of major weapons systems view these budgetary maneuvers as transparent gimmicks. So for now, our navy must fund the long-lead research for its Ohio-class replacement submarine platform from unobligated funds within its current shipbuilding budget.

Navy and congressional budgeteers and Ohio-class sponsors will treat these "unobligated funds" (now obligated to the Ohio-class replacement submarine platform) as a loan to be reimbursed by the new funding source if and when it is created by Congress.

If Congress declines to create a new and additional funding source for the Ohio-class replacement our navy must charge its current shipbuilding budget—requiring it to: increase its current shipbuilding budget: or decrease the number of ships it builds; or decrease the per ship price; or more likely, some combination of all three.

UPDATED 05/07/2014 DefIndustryDaily, CMC Program Defining Future SSBN Launchers for UK, USA

Series of past articles.

UPDATED 04/11/2014 NTI, Navy Maps Out Details of Future Ballistic-Missile Subs and MilitaryDotCom, Admiral: Crimea Proves Nuclear Subs Still Needed and USNI, Navy Has Finalized Specifications for New Ohio-Replacement Boomer

A quasi-base-line3 for an Ohio-class replacement platform is the easy part—finding an estimated $60 billion 2010 dollars (likely under estimated by a minimum of 40%) for 12, sixteen tube platforms will be more challenging.

It's unclear how Putin's behavior as a "shirtless hooligan" over Crimea "proves" a need for a sea-based nuclear missile platform, as Military News and Open Source Naval Intelligence headline implies the rear admiral asserts?

The above attribution was made at the Navy League, Sea-Air-Space 2014 Exposition, which may encourage or induce, if not explain a speaker's hyperbolic expressions?

UPDATED 03/01/2014 NTI, Markey Files Bill to Cut $100 Billion in Nuclear Arms Funds

Includes reducing the number of Ohio-class replacement (aka SSBN-X) platforms to eight—hopefully, just the start of an accelerating trend toward zero nuclear warheads?

UPDATED 01/19/2014 NTI, U.S. to Start Cutting Submarine Missile-Launchers Next Year

It's always a little jilting to read the adverb "only" in articles discussing the number of deployed nuclear warheads.

UPDATED 12/21/2013 Reuters, U.S. nuclear weapon plans to cost $355 billion over a decade: CBO report
UPDATED 06/05/2013 USN, Buying Submarines in an Age of Austerity
UPDATED 06/04/2013 ACA, Nuclear Sub Costs Complicate Navy Plans
UPDATED 05/17/2013 NavyLive, Navy Responds to Debate Over the Size of the SSBN Force

So, let's eliminate all of our nuclear warheads and not sweat the small stuff, like the unknowable optimal number of strategic platforms and warheads for a given deterrent coverage.

Is the admiral really arguing that our probability of attacking Russia and China has increased as a result of their reduced number of patrols or number of strategic platforms?

UPDATED 05/06/2013 WP, Budget cuts could reshape the country’s ship supply, official says

NavyLive, NavyLive, Ohio Replacement Class SSBNs an Essential Investment

-----notes-----

1. Our capable submarine designers have made tremendous gains in basic and applied marine research; virtual design; modular manufacturing; and materials processes but a platform requirement of 42 years of continuous stealthiness must await further research.

If given such a requirement there is no doubt that any Ohio-class replacement team would act responsibly and hold-down expenditures until all the money runs out or relief from the requirement is provided.

The post may be emphasizing 42 years of continuous stealthiness not as a hard requirement but as awkward justification for purchasing a new platform as opposed to modifying an existing platform?

2. Our policymakers and navy leadership must jettison their harmful, obsolete and costly notion that striving to reduce or accommodate the insecurities of our putative, imaginary or real adversaries displays weakness—exploiting putative, imaginary or real weaknesses is simply a circular method that minimizes trust and cooperation while increasing costs for minimal, zero or negative gain!



3. Those familiar with major weapons system development and procurement are painfully aware that a "final baseline" does not exist.

The term "final baseline" is just part of a choreographed congress-navy-contractor tragic-comedy (some might say subterfuge) used to authorize a "low-cost" (yes, $60 billion is the low cost!) weapons system while producing and delivering a "high cost" weapons system!

The term "final baseline" means that the navy, contractor, and congress have agreed to pretend that the total weapons system cost will be $60 billion--nobody, but the uninitiated believes the estimate is true--yet, everybody will continue to pretend it is, until it isn't!

When the weapons system "cost growth" (the term overrun will not be used) exceeds $60 billion the recriminations, joint storytelling and "improvement programs" will begin.

If the overrun costs can be kept to a minimum by changing the baseline configuration or reducing the procurement quantity or both the major weapons system will proceed.

If the cost overrun is excessive the major weapons system is canceled, a very undesirable outcome for the navy (loses assets); contractor (loses revenue and goodwill); congress (loses district jobs).

Rarely, a major weapons system will lose its navy or congressional sponsors or both and will be canceled with or without a cost overrun.

4. Meaningful entails more than asking a SecNav or CNO or NavSea if they could use an SSBN(X); or listening to congressional committee boosters from Connecticut testify while the witnesses listen.

5. The general's misstatement about the equivalency of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons is likely for Russia's consumption? Putin is throwing a temper tantrum and using psychological warfare by deploying tactical (short-range) nuclear missile ground launchers (i.e. 9K720 Iskander), which may also launch strategic (longer range) nuclear missiles. The general is likely indicating to Putin that for purposes of retaliation he'll make no distinction between tactical and strategic nuclear missiles.

China is quietly (i.e. minus the temper tantrums) using a similar tactic (FUD) when it deploys strategic nuclear missile launchers ostensibly as a conventional "aircraft carrier killer". A missile on any ballistic trajectory during conflict may trigger a nuclear response from warring warriors.

Such are the dangerous and foolish physical and psychological games potential adversaries (usually putatively weaker) sometimes play, which makes a strong case for eliminating nuclear weapons.

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