Navy Columbia (SSBN-826) Class Ballistic Missile Submarine Program: Background and Issues for Congress




Navy Columbia (SSBN-826) Class Ballistic
Missile Submarine Program: Background and
Issues for Congress

Updated September 2, 2020
Congressional Research Service
https://crsreports.congress.gov
R41129




Navy Columbia (SSBN-826) Class Ballistic Missile Submarine Program

Summary
The Columbia (SSBN-826) class program is a program to design and build a class of 12 new
ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) to replace the Navy’s current force of 14 aging Ohio-class
SSBNs. The Navy has identified the Columbia-class program as the Navy’s top priority program.
The Navy wants to procure the first Columbia-class boat in FY2021. Research and development
work on the program has been underway for several years, and advance procurement (AP)
funding for the first boat began in FY2017. The Navy’s proposed FY2021 budget requests
$2,891.5 million (i.e., about $2.9 billion) in procurement funding, $1,123.2 million (i.e., about
$1.1 billion) in advance procurement (AP) funding, and $397.3 million in research and
development funding for the program.
The Navy’s FY2021 budget submission estimates the procurement cost of the first Columbia-
class boat at $14,393.4 million (i.e., about $14.4 billion) in then-year dollars, including $6,007.8
million (i.e., about $6.0 billion) in costs for plans, meaning (essentially) the detail design/non-
recurring engineering (DD/NRE) costs for the Columbia class. (It is a longstanding Navy
budgetary practice to incorporate the DD/NRE costs for a new class of ship into the total
procurement cost of the first ship in the class.) Excluding costs for plans, the estimated hands-on
construction cost of the first ship is $8,385.7 million (i.e., about $8.4 billion). The boat has
received $6,227.8 million (i.e., about $6.2 billion) in prior-year AP funding. The Navy’s proposed
FY2021 budget requests $2,891.5 million in procurement funding, and the remaining $5,274.2
million (i.e., about $5.3 billion) in procurement funding needed to complete the boat’s total
estimated procurement cost of $14,393.4 million is to be requested in FY2022 and FY2023.
The Navy wants to procure the second Columbia-class boat in FY2024. The Navy’s FY2021
budget submission estimates the procurement cost of this boat at $9,326.1 million (i.e., about $9.3
billion) in then-year dollars. The Navy’s proposed FY2021 budget requests $1,123.2 million in
AP funding for the Columbia-class program, of which $1,028.0 million (i.e., about $1.0 billion) is
for the second boat and $95.2 million is for the third and subsequent boats in the program.
The Navy’s FY2021 budget submission estimates the total procurement cost of the 12-ship class
at $109.8 billion in then-year dollars.
Issues for Congress for the Columbia-class program include the following:
 the risk—due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation, technical challenges,
and/or funding-related issues— of a delay in designing and building the lead
Columbia-class boat, which could put at risk the Navy’s ability to have the boat
ready for its first scheduled deterrent patrol in 2031, when it is to deploy in the
place of the first retiring Ohio-class SSBN;
 whether the Navy has accurately priced the work it is proposing to do in the
Columbia-class program in FY2021;
 the risk of cost growth in the program;
 the potential impact of the Columbia-class program on funding that will be
available for other Navy programs, including other shipbuilding programs; and
 potential industrial-base challenges of building both Columbia-class boats and
Virginia-class attack submarines (SSNs) at the same time.
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Contents
Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 1
Background ..................................................................................................................................... 1

U.S. Navy SSBNs in General .................................................................................................... 1
Mission of SSBNs ............................................................................................................... 1
Current Ohio-Class SSBNs ................................................................................................. 2
U.S.-UK Cooperation on SLBMs and the New UK SSBN ................................................ 3
Submarine Construction Industrial Base ................................................................................... 4
Columbia-Class Program .......................................................................................................... 4

Navy’s Top Priority Program .............................................................................................. 4
Program Name .................................................................................................................... 5
Program Origin and Milestones .......................................................................................... 5
Planned Procurement Quantity and Schedule ..................................................................... 5
Columbia Class Design ....................................................................................................... 6
Tight Schedule for Designing and Build Lead Boat ........................................................... 7
Program Cost ...................................................................................................................... 7
National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund (NSBDF) ................................................................. 9
Integrated Enterprise Plan (IEP) ......................................................................................... 9
Cost-Plus Incentive Fee (CPIF) Contract for First Two Ships .......................................... 10
FY2021-FY2025 Columbia-Class R&D and Procurement Funding ................................ 10
FY2021 Procurement Funding Request ............................................................................. 11
Issues for Congress ......................................................................................................................... 11
Potential Impact of Continuing Resolution (CR) in FY2021 ................................................... 11
Risk of Schedule Delay in Designing and Building Lead Boat .............................................. 13
Overview ........................................................................................................................... 13
Risk Due to Potential Impact of CR in FY2021 ............................................................... 13
Risk Due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Situation .............................................................. 13
Risk Due to Technical Challenges .................................................................................... 17
Pricing of Proposed FY2021 Work ......................................................................................... 22
Risk of Cost Growth ................................................................................................................ 23
Overview ........................................................................................................................... 23
Navy Perspective .............................................................................................................. 23
CBO Perspective ............................................................................................................... 24
GAO Perspective .............................................................................................................. 26
Cost-Plus Incentive Fee (CPIF) Contract.......................................................................... 26

Program Affordability and Impact on Other Navy Shipbuilding Programs ............................ 27
Industrial-Base Challenges of Building Both Columbia- and Virginia-Class Boats ............... 29
Legislative Activity for FY2021 .................................................................................................... 31
Summary of Congressional Action on FY2021 Funding Request .......................................... 31
FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 6395/S. 4049) ........................................ 32
House ................................................................................................................................ 32
Senate ................................................................................................................................ 32

FY21 DOD Appropriations Act (H.R. 7617) .......................................................................... 34
House ................................................................................................................................ 34

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Figures
Figure 1. Ohio (SSBN-726) Class SSBN ........................................................................................ 3
Figure 2. Columbia (SSBN-826) Class SSBN ................................................................................ 7

Tables
Table 1. Columbia-Class Program Funding .................................................................................. 10
Table 2. Navy Confidence Levels for Estimated Columbia-Class Unit Procurement Costs ......... 24
Table 3. Congressional Action on FY2021 Funding Request........................................................ 31

Table A-1. U.S. SSBN Classes ...................................................................................................... 36

Appendixes
Appendix A. Summary of Past U.S. SSBN Designs ..................................................................... 36
Appendix B. U.S.-UK Cooperation on SLBMs and the New UK SSBN ..................................... 38
Appendix C. Columbia-Class Program Origin and Milestones .................................................... 41
Appendix D. Design of Columbia-Class Boats ............................................................................. 44
Appendix E. National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund (NSBDF) ...................................................... 53

Contacts
Author Information ........................................................................................................................ 58

Congressional Research Service

Navy Columbia (SSBN-826) Class Ballistic Missile Submarine Program

Introduction
This report provides background information and potential oversight issues for Congress on the
Columbia-class program, a program to design and build a class of 12 new ballistic missile
submarines (SSBNs) to replace the Navy’s current force of 14 aging Ohio-class SSBNs. The
Navy has identified the Columbia-class program as the Navy’s top priority program. The Navy
wants to procure the first Columbia-class boat in FY2021. The Navy’s proposed FY2021 budget
requests $2,891.5 million in procurement funding, $1,123.2 million in advance procurement (AP)
funding, and $397.3 million in research and development funding for the program.
The program poses a number of funding and oversight issues for Congress. Decisions that
Congress makes on the Columbia-class program could substantially affect U.S. military
capabilities and funding requirements, and the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base.
For an overview of the strategic and budgetary context in which the Columbia-class program and
other Navy shipbuilding programs may be considered, see CRS Report RL32665, Navy Force
Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke.
This report focuses on the Columbia-class program as a Navy shipbuilding program. Another
CRS report—CRS Report RL33640, U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments,
and Issues
, by Amy F. Woolf—discusses the Columbia class as an element of future U.S. strategic
nuclear forces in the context of strategic nuclear arms modernization efforts and arms control
agreements.
Background
U.S. Navy SSBNs in General
Mission of SSBNs
The U.S. Navy operates three kinds of submarines—nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs),
nuclear-powered cruise missile submarines (SSGNs), and nuclear-powered ballistic missile
submarines (SSBNs).1 The SSNs and SSGNs are multi-mission ships that perform a variety of
peacetime and wartime missions.2 They do not carry nuclear weapons.3

1 In the designations SSN, SSGN, and SSBN, the SS stands for submarine, N stands for nuclear-powered (meaning the
ship is powered by a nuclear reactor), G stands for guided missile (such as a cruise missile), B stands for ballistic
missile. As shown by the “Ns” in SSN, SSGN, and SSBN, all U.S. Navy submarines are nuclear-powered. Other navies
operate nonnuclear powered submarines, which are powered by energy sources such as diesel engines. A submarine’s
use of nuclear or nonnuclear power as its energy source is not an indication of whether it is armed with nuclear
weapons—a nuclear-powered submarine can lack nuclear weapons, and a nonnuclear-powered submarine can be armed
with nuclear weapons.
2 For more on the Navy’s SSNs and SSGNs, see CRS Report RL32418, Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack
Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke, and CRS Report RS21007, Navy
Trident Submarine Conversion (SSGN) Program: Background and Issues for Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke.
3 The Navy’s nonstrategic nuclear weapons—meaning all of the service’s nuclear weapons other than submarine-
launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs)—were removed from Navy surface ships and submarines under a unilateral U.S.
nuclear initiative announced by President George H. W. Bush in September 1991. The initiative reserved a right to
rearm SSNs with nuclear-armed cruise missiles at some point in the future should conditions warrant.
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The SSBNs, in contrast, perform a specialized mission of strategic nuclear deterrence. To perform
this mission, SSBNs are armed with submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), which are
large, long-range missiles armed with multiple nuclear warheads. SSBNs launch their SLBMs
from large-diameter vertical launch tubes located in the middle section of the boat.4 The SSBNs’
basic mission is to remain hidden at sea with their SLBMs, so as to deter a nuclear attack on the
United States by another country by demonstrating to other countries that the United States has an
assured second-strike capability, meaning a survivable system for carrying out a retaliatory
nuclear attack.
Navy SSBNs, which are sometimes referred to informally as “boomers,”5 form one leg of the
U.S. strategic nuclear deterrent force, or “triad,” which also includes land-based intercontinental
ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and land-based long-range bombers. At any given moment, some of
the Navy’s SSBNs are conducting nuclear deterrent patrols. The Department of Defense’s
(DOD’s) report on the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), released on February 2, 2018, states
the following:
Ballistic missile submarines are the most survivable leg of the triad. When on patrol,
SSBNs are, at present, virtually undetectable, and there are no known, near-term credible
threats to the survivability of the SSBN force. Nevertheless, we will continue to hedge
against the possibility that advances in anti-submarine warfare could make the SSBN force
less survivable in the future.6
Current Ohio-Class SSBNs
The Navy currently operates 14 Ohio (SSBN-726) class SSBNs (see Figure 1). The boats are
commonly called Trident SSBNs or simply Tridents because they carry Trident D-5 SLBMs.
They were procured in FY1977-FY1991 and entered service in 1984-1997. They were designed
and built by General Dynamics’ Electric Boat Division (GD/EB) of Groton, CT, and Quonset
Point, RI. They were originally designed for 30-year service lives but were later certified for 42-
year service lives, consisting of two approximately 19-year periods of operation separated by an
approximately 4-year midlife nuclear refueling overhaul, called an engineered refueling overhaul
(ERO). The nuclear refueling overhaul includes both a nuclear refueling and overhaul work on
the ship that is not related to the nuclear refueling.7
The boats were originally designed to each carry 24 SLBMs. As part of DOD’s plan for
complying with U.S.-Russia strategic nuclear arms control limits, four SLBM launch tubes on
each boat have been deactivated, reducing to 20 the number of SLBMs they can each carry.

4 SSBNs, like other Navy submarines, are also equipped with horizontal torpedo tubes in the bow for firing torpedoes
or other torpedo-sized weapons.
5 This informal name is a reference to the large boom that would be made by the detonation of an SLBM nuclear
warhead.
6 Department of Defense, Nuclear Posture Review 2018, released February 2, 2018, pp. 44-45.
7 A total of 18 Ohio-class SSBNs were procured in FY1974-FY1991. The ships entered service in 1981-1997. The first
eight boats in the class were originally armed with Trident I C-4 SLBMs; the final ten were armed with larger and
more-capable Trident II D-5 SLBMs. The Clinton Administration’s 1994 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR)
recommended a strategic nuclear force for the START II strategic nuclear arms reduction treaty that included 14 Ohio-
class SSBNs, all armed with D-5s. This recommendation prompted interest in the idea of converting the first four Ohio-
class boats (SSBNs 726-729) into SSGNs, so as to make good use of the 20 years of potential operational life
remaining in these four boats, and to bolster the U.S. SSN fleet. The first 4 Ohio-class boats were converted into
SSGNs in 2002-2008, and the next four (SSBNs 730-733) were backfitted with D-5 SLBMs in 2000-2005, producing
the current force of 14 Ohio-class SSBNs, all of which are armed with D-5 SLBMs. For more on the SSGN conversion
program, see CRS Report RS21007, Navy Trident Submarine Conversion (SSGN) Program: Background and Issues for
Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke.
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Eight of the 14 Ohio-class SSBNs are homeported at Bangor, WA, in Puget Sound; the other six
are homeported at Kings Bay, GA, close to the Florida border. Unlike most Navy ships, which are
operated by single crews, Navy SSBNs are operated by alternating crews (called the Blue and
Gold crews) so as to maximize the percentage of time that they spend at sea in deployed status.
Figure 1. Ohio (SSBN-726) Class SSBN
With the hatches to some of its SLBM launch tubes open

Source: U.S. Navy file photo accessed by CRS on February 24, 2011, at http://www.navy.mil/management/
photodb/photos/101029-N-1325N-005.jpg.
The first of the 14 Ohio-class SSBNs (SSBN-730) will reach the end of its 42-year service life in
2027. The remaining 13 will reach the ends of their service lives at a rate of roughly one ship per
year thereafter, with the 14th reaching the end of its service life in 2040.
The Navy has initiated a program to refurbish and extend the service lives of D-5 SLBMs to
about 2040. As Columbia-class SSBNs begin to replace Ohio-class boats in 2031, refurbished D-
5s carried by retiring Ohio-class boats will be transferred to new Columbia-class boats.
Columbia-class boats will continue to be armed with these refurbished D-5s until about 2040, at
which time the D-5s are to be replaced by a successor SLBM.
Including the Ohio class, the Navy has operated four classes of SSBNs since 1959. For a table
summarizing these four classes, see Appendix A.
U.S.-UK Cooperation on SLBMs and the New UK SSBN
As one expression of U.S.-UK cooperation on nuclear weapon matters that dates back to World
War II, the UK’s four Vanguard-class SSBNs, which entered service in 1993-1999, each carry 16
Trident II D-5 SLBMs, and previous classes of UK SSBNs similarly carried earlier-generation
U.S. SLBMs.8 The UK plans to replace the four Vanguard-class boats with three or four
Dreadnought-class next-generation SSBNs. Dreadnought-class boats are to be equipped with 12
missile launch tubes, but current UK plans call for each boat to carry eight D-5 SLBMs, with the
other four tubes not being used for SLBMs. The United States is providing technical assistance to

8 Although the SLBMs on UK SSBNs are U.S.-made, the nuclear warheads on the missiles are of UK design and
manufacture.
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the United Kingdom for the Dreadnought-class program, as it has over the years for some other
UK submarine programs; for additional discussion, see Appendix B.
Submarine Construction Industrial Base
U.S. Navy submarines are built at two shipyards—General Dynamics’ Electric Boat Division
(GD/EB) of Groton, CT, and Quonset Point, RI, and Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport
News Shipbuilding (HII/NNS), of Newport News, VA. GD/EB and HII/NNS are the only two
shipyards in the country capable of building nuclear-powered ships. GD/EB builds submarines
only, while HII/NNS also builds nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and is capable of building other
types of surface ships. The two yards currently are jointly building Virginia-class attack
submarines.9
In addition to GD/EB and HII/NNS, the submarine construction industrial base includes hundreds
of supplier firms, as well as laboratories and research facilities, in numerous states. Much of the
total material procured from supplier firms for the construction of submarines comes from sole-
source suppliers. For nuclear-propulsion component suppliers, an additional source of stabilizing
work is the Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carrier construction program.10
Much of the design and engineering portion of the submarine construction industrial base is
resident at GD/EB. Smaller portions are resident at HII/NNS and some of the component makers.
Columbia-Class Program
Navy’s Top Priority Program
Navy officials have stated consistently since September 2013 that the Columbia-class program is
the Navy’s top priority program, and that this means, among other things, that from the Navy’s
perspective, the Columbia-class program will be funded, even if that comes at the expense of
funding for other Navy programs.11

9 For more on the arrangement for jointly building Virginia-class boats, see CRS Report RL32418, Navy Virginia (SSN-
774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke.
10 For more on this program, see CRS Report RS20643, Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program:
Background and Issues for Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke. In terms of work provided to nuclear-propulsion
component suppliers, a carrier nuclear propulsion plant is roughly equivalent to five submarine propulsion plants.
11 On September 18, 2013, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, then-Chief of Naval Operations, testified that the Columbia-
class program “is the top priority program for the Navy.” (Statement of Admiral Jonathan Greenert, U.S. Navy, Chief
of Naval Operations, Before the House Armed Services Committee on Planning for Sequestration in FY 2014 and
Perspectives of the Military Services on the Strategic Choices and Management Review, September 18, 2013, p. 10.)
Navy officials since then have reiterated this statement on numerous occasions. At a September 12, 2013, hearing
before the Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee on undersea
warfare, a Navy official stated the following:
The CNO has stated, his number one priority as the chief of Naval operations, is our—our strategic
deterrent—our nuclear strategic deterrent. That will trump all other vitally important requirements
within our Navy, but if there’s only one thing that we do with our ship building account, we—we
are committed to sustaining a two ocean national strategic deterrent that protects our homeland
from nuclear attack, from other major war aggression and also access and extended deterrent for
our allies.
(Transcript of hearing. (Spoken remarks of Rear Admiral Richard Breckenridge. The other witness
at the hearing was Rear Admiral David Johnson.)
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Program Name
Until 2016, the Columbia-class program was known as the Ohio replacement program (ORP) or
SSBN(X) program,12 and boats in the class were referred to as Ohio replacement boats or
SSBNXs. Some budget documents continue to use these terms.
Program Origin and Milestones
For information on the Columbia-class program’s origin and milestones, see Appendix C.
Planned Procurement Quantity and Schedule
Planned Procurement Quantity
Navy plans call for procuring 12 Columbia-class boats to replace the current force of 14 Ohio-
class SSBNs. In explaining the planned procurement quantity of 12 boats, the Navy states the
following:
 Ten operational SSBNs—meaning boats not encumbered by lengthy maintenance
actions—are needed to meet strategic nuclear deterrence requirements for having
a certain number of SSBNs at sea at any given moment.
 Fourteen Ohio-class boats were needed to meet the requirement for 10
operational boats because, during the middle years of the Ohio class life cycle,
three and sometimes four of the boats were nonoperational at any given moment
on account of being in the midst of lengthy midlife nuclear refueling overhauls or
other extended maintenance actions.
 Twelve (rather than 14) Columbia-class boats will be needed to meet the
requirement for 10 operational boats because the midlife overhauls of Columbia-
class boats, which will not include a nuclear refueling, will require less time
(about two years) than the midlife refueling overhauls of Ohio-class boats (which
require about four years from contract award to delivery), the result being that
only two Columbia-class boats (rather than three or sometimes four) will be in
the midst of midlife overhauls or other extended maintenance actions at any
given moment during the middle years of the Columbia-class life cycle.13
The Trump Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), released in February 2018, states
the following: “The COLUMBIA-class program will deliver a minimum of 12 SSBNs to replace
the current OHIO fleet and is designed to provide required capabilities for decades.”14 The use of
the word “minimum” in that sentence can be viewed as signaling a possibility that the required

12 In the designation SSBN(X), the (X) meant that the design of the boat had not yet been determined.
13 For additional discussion, see “Navy Responds to Debate Over the Size of the SSBN Force,” Navy Live, May 16,
2013, accessed July 26, 2013, at http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2013/05/16/navy-responds-to-debate-over-the-size-of-the-
ssbn-force/, and Richard Breckenridge, “SSBN Force Level Requirements: It’s Simply a Matter of Geography,” Navy
Live, July 19, 2013, accessed July 26, 2013, at http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2013/07/19/ssbn-force-level-requirements-
its-simply-a-matter-of-geography/.
14 Department of Defense, Nuclear Posture Review 2018, released February 2, 2018, p. 49. A similar statement (which
differs only in saying “COLUMBIA program” rather than “COLUMBIA-class program”) appears on p. x.
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number of Columbia-class boats might at some point be increased to something more than 12
boats.15
Planned Procurement Schedule
The Navy wants to procure the first Columbia-class boat in FY2021, the second in FY2024, and
the remaining 10 at a rate of one per year from FY2026 through FY2035. Under this schedule, the
Navy projects that the lead boat (i.e., first boat) would be delivered in FY2028, the second in
FY2031, and the remaining 10 at a rate of one per year from FY2033 through FY2042. After
being delivered in FY2028, the lead boat would undergo substantial testing, with the aim of
having it be ready for its first deterrent patrol in 2031.
Under this schedule, and given planned retirement dates for Ohio-class boats, the Navy projects
that the SSBN force would decline to 13 boats in FY2027-FY2028, 12 boats in FY2029, 11 boats
in FY2030-FY2036 and 10 boats in FY2037-FY2040, and then increase back to 11 boats in
FY2041 and 12 boats in FY2042.16 The Navy states that the reduction to 11 or 10 boats during the
period FY2030-FY2041 is acceptable in terms of meeting strategic nuclear deterrence
requirements, because during these years, all 11 or 10 of the SSBNs in service will be operational
(i.e., none of them will be in the midst of a lengthy midlife overhaul). The Navy acknowledges
that there is some risk in having the SSBN force drop to 11 or 10 boats, because it provides little
margin for absorbing an unforeseen event that might force an SSBN into an unscheduled and
lengthy maintenance action.
The projected minimum level of 11 or 10 boats can be increased to 12 or 11 boats (providing
some additional margin for absorbing an unforeseen event that might force an SSBN into an
unscheduled and lengthy maintenance action) by accelerating by about one year the planned
procurement dates of boats 2 through 12 in the program. Under this option, the second boat in the
program would be procured in FY2023 rather than FY2024, the third boat in the program would
be procured in FY2025 rather than FY2026, and so on. Implementing this option could affect the
Navy’s plan for funding the procurement of other Navy shipbuilding programs during the period
FY2022-FY2025.
Columbia Class Design
The Columbia-class design (see Figure 2) includes 16 SLBM tubes, as opposed to 24 SLBM
tubes (of which 20 are now used for SLBMs) on Ohio-class SSBNs. Although the Columbia-class
design has fewer SLBM tubes than the Ohio-class design, it is larger than the Ohio-class design
in terms of submerged displacement. The Columbia-class design, like the Ohio-class design
before it, will be the largest submarine ever built by the United States. For additional background
information on the Columbia-class design, see Appendix D.
Current U.S. and UK plans call for the Columbia class and the UK’s Dreadnought-class SSBN to
use a missile compartment—the middle section of the boat with the SLBM launch tubes—of the
same general design.17 As mentioned earlier, Dreadnought-class SSBNs are to each be armed with

15 See, for example, Marc Selinger, “Navy Might Someday Consider Buying More Than 12 Columbia-Class
Submarines,” Defense Daily, April 12, 2018: 2-3.
16 Source: U.S. Navy, Report to Congress on the Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for Fiscal
Year 2019
, February 2018, Tables A3-1 through A3-4 on p. 12.
17 Statement of Rear Admiral Stephen Johnson, USN, Director, Strategic Systems Programs, Before the Subcommittee
on Strategic Forces of the Senate Armed Services Committee [on] FY2011 Strategic Systems, March 17, 2010, p. 6,
which states the following: “The OHIO Replacement programs includes the development of a common missile
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eight D-5 SLBMs, or half the number to be carried by the Columbia class. The modular design of
the CMC will accommodate this difference. The UK provided some of the funding for the design
of the CMC, including a large portion of the initial funding.18
Figure 2. Columbia (SSBN-826) Class SSBN
Notional cutaway illustration

Source: Detail of slide 2, entitled “OHIO Replacement Program System Description,” in Navy briefing on
Columbia-class program presented by Captain Wil iam J. Brougham, Program Manager of PMS 397 (i.e., Project
Manager Shipbuilding, Office Code 397, the office for the Columbia-class program), at the Sea, Air, and Space
Symposium, April 8, 2014, posted at InsideDefense.com (subscription required), April 9, 2014.
Tight Schedule for Designing and Build Lead Boat
The schedule for designing and building the lead Columbia-class boat and having it ready for its
scheduled first deterrent patrol in 2031 has little slack for absorbing unforeseen delays due to
technical challenges or funding-related issues. A delay in designing and building the lead boat
could put at risk the Navy’s ability to have the boat ready for its first scheduled deterrent patrol in
2031, when it is to deploy in the place of the first retiring Ohio-class SSBN. The tightness in the
lead boat’s design and construction schedule has been a principal feature of the program (along
with the program’s high priority) for several years. Much of the management time and attention
that the Navy devotes to the program is focused on anticipating, monitoring, and mitigating risks
to the lead boat’s construction schedule, so as to ensure that the schedule will be executed without
significant delay.
Program Cost
Program Acquisition Cost
Estimates of the procurement cost or acquisition cost (i.e., the research and development cost plus
procurement cost) of the Columbia-class program include the following:
 The Navy’s FY2021 budget submission estimates the total procurement cost of
the 12-ship class at $109.8 billion in then-year dollars.
 The Navy in August 2017 estimated the total procurement cost of the Columbia-
class program at $109.2 billion in then-year dollars and the program’s research
and development cost at $13.0 billion in then-year dollars, for a total acquisition

compartment that will support both the OHIO Class Replacement and the successor to the UK Vanguard Class.”
18 See Government Accountability Office, Defense Acquisitions[:] Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs, GAO-
10-388SP, March 2010, p. 152; Government Accountability Office, Defense Acquisitions[:] Assessments of Selected
Weapon Programs
, GAO-11-233SP, March 2011, p. 147; Sam LaGrone and Richard Scott, “Deterrent Decisions: US
and UK Wait on Next Steps for SSBN Replacements,” Jane’s Navy International, May 2010, pp. 10-11.)
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(research and development plus procurement) cost of $122.3 billion in then-year
dollars.19
 The Navy as of January 2017 estimated the procurement cost of the lead ship in
the Columbia class at $8.2 billion in constant 2017 dollars, not including several
billion dollars in additional cost for plans for the class, and the average unit
procurement cost of ships 2 through 12 in the program at $6.5 billion each in
constant FY2017 dollars.20
 A June 2020 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report assessing selected
major DOD weapon acquisition programs stated that the estimated total
acquisition (development plus procurement) cost of the Columbia-class program
as of July 2019 was $104,999.89 million (about $105.0 billion) in constant
FY2020 dollars, including $13,434.77 million (about $13.4 billion) in research
and development costs and $91,565.12 million (about $91.6 billion) in
procurement costs.21
The above estimates do not include estimated costs for refurbishing D-5 SLBMs so as to extend
their service lives to about 2040.
First Boat and Second Boat Procurement Costs
The Navy’s FY2021 budget submission estimates the procurement cost of the first Columbia-
class boat at $14,393.4 million (i.e., about $14.4 billion) in then-year dollars, including $6,007.8
million (i.e., about $6.0 billion) in costs for plans, meaning (essentially) the detail design/non-
recurring engineering (DD/NRE) costs for the Columbia class. (It is a longstanding Navy
budgetary practice to incorporate the DD/NRE costs for a new class of ship into the total
procurement cost of the first ship in the class.) Excluding costs for plans, the estimated hands-on
construction cost of the first ship is $8,385.7 million (i.e., about $8.4 billion).
The Navy wants to procure the second Columbia-class boat in FY2024. The Navy’s FY2021
budget submission estimates the procurement cost of this boat at $9,326.1 million (i.e., about $9.3
billion) in then-year dollars.

19 Source: Navy briefing to CRS and CBO on the Columbia-class program, August 1, 2017. The Navy’s FY2019
budget submission, submitted in February 2018, estimates the total procurement cost of 12 Columbia-class boats at
$109.0 billion in then-year dollars.
20 Columbia Class MS [Milestone] B, Congressional Notification, January 6, 2017, p. 1. The Navy in February 2010
preliminarily estimated the procurement cost of each Columbia-class boat at $6 billion to $7 billion in FY2010 dollars.
(Source: U.S. Navy, Report to Congress on Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for FY 2011,
February 2010, p. 20.) Following the Columbia-class program’s December 9, 2010, Milestone A acquisition review
meeting (see Appendix C), DOD issued an Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM) that, among other things,
established a target average unit procurement cost for boats 2 through 12 in the program of $4.9 billion in constant
FY2010 dollars. (Christopher J. Castelli, “DOD: New Nuclear Subs Will Cost $347 Billion To Acquire, Operate,”
Inside the Navy, February 21, 2011; Elaine M. Grossman, “Future U.S. Nuclear-Armed Vessel to Use Attack-
Submarine Technology,” Global Security Newswire, February 24, 2011; Jason Sherman, “Navy Working To Cut $7.7
Billion From Ohio Replacement Program,” Inside the Navy, February 28, 2011. See also Christopher J. Castelli, “DOD
Puts ‘Should-Cost’ Pressure On Major Weapons Programs,” Inside the Navy, May 2, 2011.)
21 Government Accountability Office, Defense Acquisitions Annual Assessment[:] Drive to Deliver Capabilities Faster
Increases Importance of Program Knowledge and Consistent Data for Oversight
, GAO-20-439, June 2020, p. 137.
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Operation and Support (O&S) Cost
The Navy as of January 2017 estimated the average annual operation and support (O&S) cost of
each Columbia class boat at $119 million per year.22
National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund (NSBDF)
The National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund (NSBDF) is a fund in DOD’s budget separate from the
Navy’s shipbuilding account for holding and executing procurement funding for the construction
of new SSBNs. It was created by Congress in 2014 originally with the aim of helping to
financially insulate other Navy shipbuilding programs from the potential cost impact of the
Columbia-class program, and to encourage U.S. policymakers to finance the procurement of
Columbia-class boats from across DOD’s budget rather than solely from the Navy’s budget.
In more recent years, the statute establishing and governing the fund (10 U.SC. 2218a) has been
amended to give the NSBDF an additional function of acting as a vehicle or repository for certain
special acquisition authorities that have the potential for reducing at the margin the cost of
Columbia-class boats and other Navy nuclear-powered ships (i.e., aircraft carriers and attack
submarines). For additional background information on the NSBDF, see Appendix E.
Integrated Enterprise Plan (IEP)
The Navy, under a plan it calls the Integrated Enterprise Plan (IEP), plans to build Columbia-class
boats jointly at GD/EB and HII/NNS, with most of the work going to GD/EB. (The IEP was
previously called the Submarine Unified Build Strategy, or SUBS.) As part of this plan, the Navy
is also proposing to adjust the division of work on the Virginia-class attack submarine program
(in which boats are jointly built at GD/EB and HII/NNS),23 so that HII/NNS would receive a
larger share of the final-assembly work for that program than it has received in the past.24

22 Columbia Class MS [Milestone] B, Congressional Notification, January 6, 2017, p. 1.
23 For more on the arrangement for jointly building Virginia-class boats, see CRS Report RL32418, Navy Virginia
(SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke.
24 Key elements of the Navy’s proposed plan include the following:

GD/EB is to be the prime contractor for designing and building Columbia-class boats;

HII/NNS is to be a subcontractor for designing and building Columbia-class boats;

GD/EB is to build certain parts of each Columbia-class boat—parts that are more or less analogous to the
parts that GD/EB builds for each Virginia-class attack submarine;

HII/NNS is to build certain other parts of each Columbia-class boat—parts that are more or less analogous to
the parts that HII/NNS builds for each Virginia-class attack submarine;

GD/EB is to perform the final assembly on all 12 Columbia-class boats;

as a result of the three previous points, the Navy estimates that GD/EB would receive an estimated 77%-78%
of the shipyard work building Columbia-class boats, and HII/NNS would receive 22%-23%;

GD/EB is to continue as prime contractor for the Virginia-class program, but to help balance out projected
submarine-construction workloads at GD/EB and HII/NNS, the division of work between the two yards for
building Virginia-class boats is to be adjusted so that HII/NNS would perform the final assembly on a greater
number of Virginia-class boats than it would have under a continuation of the current Virginia-class division
of work (in which final assemblies are divided more or less evenly between the two shipyards); as a
consequence, HII/NNS would receive a greater share of the total work in building Virginia-class boats than it
would have under a continuation of the current division of work.
See Julia Bergman, “Congressmen Visit EB A Day After It Is Named Prime Contractor for Ohio Replacement
Program,” The Day (New London), March 29, 2016; Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., “Ohio Replacement Plan Is Good News
For Electric Boat,” Breaking Defense, March 29, 2016; Robert McCabe, “Newport News Shipbuilding’s Share of
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Cost-Plus Incentive Fee (CPIF) Contract for First Two Ships
The Navy is using a cost-plus incentive fee (CPIF) contract to procure the first two ships in the
class. The contract includes a single option for both ships, but the Navy states that this is not a
block buy contract,25 even though the ships are to be procured in differing fiscal years (FY2021
and FY2024), because, with regard to the second ship, the option relates to the execution of the
ship’s advance procurement (AP) funding and the Navy technically is not making a commitment
to continuing with construction of the second ship beyond what is funded with AP funding until
that ship is authorized in FY2024 and full funding (as opposed to AP funding) is provided for the
ship.26
FY2021-FY2025 Columbia-Class R&D and Procurement Funding
Table 1 shows FY2021-FY2025 funding for the Columbia-class program under the Navy’s
FY2020 budget submission.
Table 1. Columbia-Class Program Funding
(Millions of then-year dollars, rounded to nearest tenth; totals may not add due to rounding)
FY21
FY22
FY23
FY24
FY25

(req.)
(proj.)
(proj.)
(proj.)
(proj.)
Department of Defense (DOD) funding
Research and development (R&D) funding





PE0603570N (line 047)/Project 3219
80.1
60.1
56.8
54.4
44.4
PE0603595N (line 052)/Project 3220
317.2
195.8
103.8
117.6
118.2
Subtotal R&D funding
397.3
255.9
160.6
172.0
162.6
Procurement funding





Procurement
2,891.5
2,767.7
2,506.5
2,992.8
3,347.8
Advance procurement (AP)
1,123.2
1,229.0
1,643.7
2,211.2
2,760.2
Subtotal procurement funding
4,014.7 3,996.7 4,150.2 5,204.1 6,107.9
TOTAL R&D and procurement
4,412.0 4,252.6 4,310.8 5,376.1 6,270.5
Department of Energy (DOE) funding
Naval Reactors—Columbia-class reactor systems
64.7
55.0
53.9
52.9
45.6
development
Source: Table prepared by CRS based on Navy and Department of Energy FY2021 budget submissions.

Virginia-Class Submarine Deliveries to Grow,” Virginian-Pilot (Newport News), March 29, 2016; Valerie Insinna,
“GD Electric Boat Chosen To Take Lead Role for Ohio Replacement Sub,” Defense Daily, March 30, 2016: 1-3; Hugh
Lessig, “Navy: More Submarine Work Coming to Newport News Shipyard,” Military.com, March 30, 2016; Lee
Hudson, “Work on Ohio-Class Replacement Will Be 80-20 Split Between GDEB, HII-NNS,” Inside the Navy, April 4,
2016. See also Richard R. Burgess, “Submarine Admirals: ‘Unified Build Strategy’ Seeks Affordability for Future Sub
Fleet,” Seapower, July 8, 2016. See also Statement of the Honorable Sean J. Stackley, Assistant Secretary of the Navy
(Research, Development and Acquisition), and Vice Admiral Joseph P. Mulloy, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for
Integration of Capabilities and Resources, and Lieutenant General Robert S. Walsh, Deputy Commandant, Combat
Development and Integration & Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, before the
Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces of the House Armed Services Committee on Department of the
Navy Seapower and Projection Forces Capabilities, February 25, 2016, p. 12.
25 For more on block buy contracting, see CRS Report R41909, Multiyear Procurement (MYP) and Block Buy
Contracting in Defense Acquisition: Background and Issues for Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke.
26 Source: Telephone discussion with Navy Office of Legislative Affairs, June 24, 2020.
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Notes: PE means Program Element, that is, a research and development line item. A Program Element may
include several projects. PE0603570N/Project 3219 is the SSBN(X) reactor plant project within the PE for
Advanced Nuclear Power Systems. PE0603595N/Project 3220 is the Sea-Based Strategic Deterrent (SBSD)
Advanced Submarine System Development project within the PE for Ohio Replacement.
FY2021 Procurement Funding Request
The first Columbia-class boat has received $6,227.8 million (i.e., about $6.2 billion) in prior-year
AP funding. The Navy’s proposed FY2021 budget requests $2,891.5 million in procurement
funding, and the remaining $5,274.2 million (i.e., about $5.3 billion) in procurement funding
needed to complete the boat’s total estimated procurement cost of $14,393.4 million is to be
requested in FY2022 and FY2023. The Navy’s proposed FY2021 budget also requests $1,123.2
million in advance procurement (AP) funding for the Columbia-class program, of which $1,028.0
million (i.e., about $1.0 billion) is for the second boat and $95.2 million is for the third and
subsequent boats in the program.
Issues for Congress
Potential Impact of Continuing Resolution (CR) in FY2021
One issue for Congress concerns the potential impact on the Columbia-class program if the Navy
is funded for some portion of FY2021 by one or more continuing resolutions (CRs). Of the
various ships that the Navy has requested for procurement in FY2021, the one that could be most
affected by the Navy being funded for part of FY2021 by one or more CRs is the first Columbia-
class ballistic missile submarine.
As noted earlier, the Navy for FY2021 is requesting the procurement of the first Columbia-class
boat. No Columbia-class submarine was procured in FY2020, and consistent with that, the
Columbia-class program received advance procurement (AP) funding rather than procurement
funding in FY2020.
As discussed more fully in another CRS report,27 CRs typically prohibit new program starts
(“new starts”)—meaning the initiation of new program efforts that did not exist in the prior
year—and an increase in procurement quantity for a program compared to that program’s
procurement quantity in the prior year. As also discussed in the other CRS report, CRs typically
distinguish between procurement and advance procurement (AP) funding for Navy shipbuilding
programs.
As a result of such typical provisions, if the Navy is funded for part of FY2021 by one or more
CRs, the Navy could be prevented during that part of FY2021 from obligating and expending
FY2021 funding for the procurement of the first Columbia-class submarine, unless the CR(s)
were to include an anomaly (i.e., a special legislative provision) that specifically exempts the
Columbia-class program from the provisions. Consequently, without an anomaly, work on the
first Columbia-class boat might not proceed as scheduled during that part of FY2021, which
could cause a delay in the effort to design and build the boat.
Such a delay could have a significant impact, because, as discussed later in this report, the
schedule for designing and building the first Columbia-class boat and having it ready for its
scheduled first strategic nuclear deterrent patrol in 2031 has very little slack for absorbing delays.

27 CRS Report RL32665, Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress, by
Ronald O'Rourke.
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An FY2021 delay in work to design and build the first Columbia-class boat arising from a CR
could thus complicate the Navy’s challenge of designing and building the boat and having it
ready in time for its first scheduled strategic nuclear deterrent patrol.
A September 1, 2020, press report about potential CR impacts on FY2021 Navy shipbuilding
programs that mentions the first Columbia class boat (emphasis added) along with other Navy
shipbuilding programs states:
The Navy has created stability for the defense industrial base during the coronavirus
pandemic by awarding contracts early to create a plentiful backlog of work, and the
service’s acquisition chief said he doesn’t want to lose that stability heading into the new
fiscal year, which could kick off with a continuing resolution….
“We just want to take the boldness and efficiency that we’ve been operating with over this
last six months and ensure we inculcate that into our plans of actions going into the next
fiscal year. A continuing resolution is always disruptive to some degree, and so because
we’ve been able to get ahead of contract awards this year, that’s giving us a little more
bandwidth to plan for and try to minimize the disruption of a potential continuing
resolution,” James Geurts told USNI News in a phone call today, after speaking at the
Department of the Navy Gold Coast Small Business Procurement Event.
“The biggest risk to the industrial base is insecurity, and I want to ensure that the strong
push the Navy had over the last six months to create stability, which I believe we did
effectively, we don’t lose that benefit going into a continuing resolution period.”…
“Cash flow is key. We can be a challenging customer sometimes; being a challenging
customer in the middle of a pandemic can be very disruptive,” Geurts told the small
business leaders at the conference.
“I would say on the positive side, we are a customer that orders in crisis, and so we’ve
actually, we’re about 30-percent ahead on contract awards from where we were previously,
so that’s in the $30 to $35 billion range. We’re ahead of the small business awards we made
by more than a couple billion dollars compared to previous years. And so my whole goal
here is, get the work on contract so that you know it’s there, that you can count on it, and
that you can have that stability as you’re working through the challenges that you may be
having with workforce adjustments or COVID adjustments or supply chain disruption.”
Geurts said during the event that his strategy of awarding work early throughout the second
half of FY 2020 had several goals.
“Part of my strategy of loading up all this work early was to prove to ourselves we could
be much more efficient than we thought we could be. Another key was, knowing that if
you had the work queued up, that was going to put you in a much more stable place as
suppliers to us than waiting to see if you’re going to get your award at the end of
September” and having to weather the pandemic in the spring and summer with so much
uncertainty.
The third benefit – “to create some bandwidth so we didn’t have our teams completely tied
up getting out of FY ‘20 and then dropping the ball on ‘21” – is helping the acquisition
team now.
Though his office isn’t assuming FY 2021 will definitely start with a CR, they’re planning
for various scenarios now to ensure a smooth fall, regardless of what Congress does.
“We’re going to use some of the bandwidth now to make sure we’ve got our plans in place
to get through what’s likely to be a continuing resolution, particularly in an election year.
What I don’t want to do is accelerate forward (on awarding contracts) and then create a
large valley that you’re going to have to cover through the fall. My hope is that by getting
this work all awarded now, you’ve got the work in place which then can help carry you
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through a CR period, and then we’ve got the (Navy acquisition) workforce available to put
that on contract as quickly as we get the money in [FY] ‘21.”
Geurts told USNI News in the phone call that he’s already talking to officials in the
Pentagon and in Congress about anomalies, or waivers to start a new program, the
Navy would need to request if there is a CR. “The biggest one is ensuring we have a
smooth transition to construction on Columbia,” he said of the ballistic missile
submarine program, where prime contractor Electric Boat and its suppliers are hard
at work on what’s considered pre-construction activities but need the construction
contract signed as close to Oct. 1 as possible to keep on schedule.

“Being able to award that contract on time as soon as we can in Fiscal Year ‘21,
assuming it’s appropriated and authorized, will be the key thing we’ll be looking at
in a continuing resolution period.
I believe we have strong support from Congress,
everybody we’ve spoken to. The need to do that is well documented, and so that will be
the primary focus,” he said.
“Secondary focus will be making sure our ship maintenance activities and some of these
activities that carry over through the fiscal year stay on track.”28
Risk of Schedule Delay in Designing and Building Lead Boat
Overview
Another oversight issue for Congress is the risk of a delay in designing and building the lead
Columbia-class boat. As mentioned earlier, the schedule for designing and building the lead boat
and having it ready for its scheduled first deterrent patrol in 2031 has little slack for absorbing
unforeseen delays due to technical challenges or funding-related issues. A delay in designing and
building the lead boat could put at risk the Navy’s ability to have the boat ready for its first
scheduled deterrent patrol in 2031, when it is to deploy in the place of the first retiring Ohio-class
SSBN. Risks of a delay in designing and building the lead boat relate to
 the potential impact of the Navy being funded for some portion of FY2021 by
one or more continuing resolutions (CRs),
 the potential impact of the COVID-19 (aka coronavirus) situation on operations
at the two submarine shipyards (GD/EB and HII/NNS) and associated supplier
firms, and
 technical challenges or funding-related issues, such as lapses in appropriations or
restrictions on spending during periods when DOD is funded under continuing
resolutions.
Risk Due to Potential Impact of CR in FY2021
The previous section of this CRS report discussed the risk of a delay in designing the building the
first Columbia-class boat if the Navy is funded for some portion of FY2021 by one or more CRs.
Risk Due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Situation
Operations at the submarine shipyards and/or supplier firms could be affected by the COVID-19
(coronavirus) situation if workers remain home rather than report to work because they are either

28 Megan Eckstein, “Geurts: Early Contract Awards During Pandemic Giving Navy Bandwidth to Plan for Possible
Continuing Resolution,” USNI News, September 1, 2020.
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positive for the virus, are remaining home as part of an effort to maintain social distancing, are
taking care of children who have been sent home from school for the same reason, or are taking
care of family members who have become ill as a result of the virus. Impacts on operations at
supplier firms could affect operations at the shipyards, even if staffing at the shipyards themselves
is not affected, due to reduced or delayed deliveries to the shipyards of supplier-provided
components and materials.
The risk of impacts at shipyards and supplier firms due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation
is not unique to the Columbia-class program—it is a risk faced by all DOD procurement
programs. The risk to the Columbia-class program, however, is notable due to the program’s high
priority, its tight schedule for designing and building the lead boat, and the potential
consequences for the nation’s strategic nuclear deterrent posture if the lead boat is not ready to
conduct its first scheduled deterrent patrol in 2031. Potential oversight questions for Congress
include the following:
 How might the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation affect operations at the two
submarine shipyards and associated supplier firms? What impact might this in
turn have on the lead boat’s design and construction schedule?
 What is the Navy doing to anticipate, monitor, and mitigate the potential risk to
the lead boat’s design and construction schedule resulting from the COVID-19
(coronavirus) situation? What role, if any, could the Defense Production Act
(DPA) or other federal authorities play in responding to the schedule risk posed
by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation?29
A June 2, 2020, press report stated:
The Columbia ballistic-missile submarine program has seen some COVID-19-related
challenges—including difficulties conducting oversight audits to ensure suppliers can keep
to the tight schedule that has no room for further delays—but the program executive officer
is confident that the prime shipbuilder is managing the situation and keeping the program
on track.
The Navy had been deploying multi-functional inspection teams to visit SSBN suppliers
and conduct hands-on inspections to make sure workers were properly trained to deliver
quality products on time; due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, those in-person visits have
had to stop, Program Executive Officer for Columbia Rear Adm. Scott Pappano said June
1. The service is hoping to restart those inspections, first virtually and eventually in person
again.
Pappano, speaking Monday [June 1] at a virtual meeting hosted by the Advanced Nuclear
Weapons Alliance Deterrence Center, said the Columbia program is actively identifying
and mitigating risks, as there is no wiggle room left in the schedule to complete the first-
in-class Columbia (SSBN-826) by 2027. Flawed welds on missile tubes in 2018 threatened
that timeline, and Pappano said the Navy learned from that experience that it couldn’t take
for granted that suppliers throughout the industrial base had the right workforce and
facilities to deliver on time and to Navy quality standards.
“Our most significant risk at the top of the list is our supplier industrial base. We kind of
shook that out a little bit with missile tubes; we had loss and atrophy in some skill sets,” he

29 For more on the DPA in the context of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation, see CRS Report R43767, The Defense
Production Act of 1950: History, Authorities, and Considerations for Congress
, by Michael H. Cecire and Heidi M.
Peters, and CRS Insight IN11231, The Defense Production Act (DPA) and COVID-19: Key Authorities and Policy
Considerations
, by Michael H. Cecire and Heidi M. Peters.
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said, referring to welds that weren’t caught during quality assurance checks at the
manufacturer.
“We took what we learned from our missile tube repair issues that we had to do to drive a
more extensive risk-based assessment of vendors—the intrusive supplier audits—to make
sure we understood what the industrial base could and couldn’t do on throughput and
quality. We have instituted that across with carriers, with submarines, across the base; have
identified where those risks are” and are seeking targeted mitigation plans that could
include working across all submarine and aircraft carrier programs to help level-load the
suppliers’ upcoming workload, or helping the company boost workforce training or build
the right facilities to be successful.
Those intrusive supplier audits began in 2018. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though,
“because of the environment we’re in and our limited ability to travel, if we can use remote
resources like [Defense Contract Management Agency] that are on site to help us with that,
we’ve used that. Some of that has been some desktop audit kinds of things where we can
review virtually the supply base and work with them. We’re working a plan to ramp that
back up again, starting virtually … and remote resources, and then go ramp that back up
again as we move forward here.”
The audit teams include about 10 to 12 people and represent communities including
engineering, quality assurance, program management, purchasing and more, and they
include groups like DCMA, the Supervisor of Shipbuilding and prime contractor General
Dynamics Electric Boat, who may already have representatives on site with the vendor.
The teams watch employee training and performance, inspect material samples and other
hands-on work that wasn’t previously done, in the hopes of avoiding another situation like
the missile tube welds.
Incidentally, Pappano said the missile tube vendors were actually among the hardest hit by
COVID-19 so far. Just three companies build the tubes, and one—Babcock Marine in the
United Kingdom—saw a 30-percent drop-off in productivity for a time due to the virus.
“Early on in the COVID thing, they were hard hit with having welders and [quality
assurance] not being able to come to work, and so we did see a hiccup in the missile tube
production there,” Pappano said.
“Our initial assessment is, without any further mitigation, we saw a delay of, probably an
impact of about a couple of months in there for the missile tubes, in the worst case. So right
now, that’s unmitigated; that’s without doing any other recovery actions,” Pappano said
when asked to quantify the delay of the pandemic.
“So that couple-month impact right now, we’ve circled back up with the private
shipbuilder, Electric Boat, and with the missile tube vendors; we’re analyzing a plan right
now, prioritizing what tubes are going where, and then coming up with mid-term and long-
term recovery to go deal with that: is it additional resources? Is it additional support
vendors? A couple different options.”
That couple-months delay may ultimately just be a few weeks’ delay, once the recovery
measures are carried out.
The admiral noted that Babcock is back up to about 90 percent of the workforce coming in
each day, which will help provide more options for trying to get the missile tubes back on
schedule.
At the prime shipbuilder level, Pappano praised Electric Boat for keeping the program on
track despite all the challenges—both related to the pandemic and those just stemming
from starting a new construction program and building a lead ship.
Because Columbia is considered a top priority for the Navy and the Defense Department,
“it has been afforded the priority to get the work done, both at the prime shipbuilders and
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with the supply vendors, the supporting vendors that feed the material to the shipbuilders.
They’ve done a great job of mitigating any impact to Columbia. That being said … there
are going to be probably other impacts to other programs, for instance the Virginia-class
shipbuilding program. You may not be able to do it all with the workforce you have until
we come out of the COVID-19. That’s really where we’re going to have to mitigate the
impacts. We will drive the resources to Columbia to get it done as the top priority.”
Pappano later told USNI News there were no specific examples yet of resources being
pulled from Virginia to keep Columbia on track during the pandemic, but that if the
industrial base continues to see workers staying home because they are sick or to take care
of children, that would be a potential outcome.30
A June 1, 2020, press report stated:
The Navy’s top priority—its new nuclear-powered Columbia-class submarine—has been
struck by the COVID-19 virus. Workers’ absences at a critical supplier have delayed
construction and welding of the boat’s missile tubes by several months a senior Navy
official said today, and the service is scrambling to make that time up….
Head of the Columbia program, Rear Adm. Scott Pappano, said during a video conference
sponsored by the Advanced Nuclear Weapons Alliance today that the work experienced “a
hiccup” earlier this year when less than 30 percent of workers at UK-based Babcock Marine
showed up for work during the height of the COVID outbreak, leading to setbacks in the
work schedule.
“There was an interruption in our ability to do work,” Pappano said, calling the delay of
several months a “worst case” scenario that would stick if no actions were taken to speed
up work going forward.
“We’re analyzing the plan right now,” he added. “Prioritizing what tubes go where and
then coming up with mid-term and long-term recovery plans to go deal with that.” Pappano
said the Navy and industry may hire more workers and bring in more vendors to buy that
time back….
Despite the setback, Babcock’s workforce has recovered in recent weeks, “and essentially
they’re above 90% capacity” on the production line, Pappano said. “So my assessment is
they’re essentially back up—or close to it—not where they were before” the virus struck.31
An April 29, 2020, press report stated:
General Dynamics Electric Boat remains ready to start construction of the first Columbia-
class ballistic missile submarine in October, company officials announced Wednesday
[April 29].
To date, Electric Boat’s preparations to start building the first of 12 planned Columbia-
class boomers, along with work at the yard building the Virginia-class fast attack
submarines, has not experienced significant delays due to COVID-19, Phebe Novakovic,
the chief executive of General Dynamics, told analysts during a Wednesday conference
discussing the company’s first-quarter financial results.
“The performance was good and particularly solid at Electric Boat,” Novakovic said.
“We’ve also increased our advanced construction on the first Columbia as we approach the
planned construction date in October of this year.”…

30 Megan Eckstein, “COVID Pandemic a Barrier to Navy’s Oversight of Columbia Submarine Industrial Base; PEO
Working on Virtual Oversight,” USNI News, June 2, 2020.
31 Paul McLeary, “Pandemic Hits Navy’s New Nuke Submarine Program,” Breaking Defense, June 1, 2020. See also
Dan Leone, “COVID-19 Cramped Columbia Tube Work, Navy Program Officer Says,” Defense Daily, June 1, 2020.
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Now, as companies take measures to protect their workforces from catching and spreading
COVID-19, Novakovic said the company is working to limit supply chain disruptions and
work slowdowns. General Dynamics has pushed roughly $300 million to prop up its
suppliers while they deal with business disruptions caused by COVID-19.
“Since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, we have supported our government customers
and implemented multiple safety measures to keep our people as safe as possible,”
Novakovic said in a statement released before markets opened Wednesday. “We are
responding to the COVID travel restrictions’ impact on Gulfstream and are managing our
costs throughout our business.”32
For additional discussion of the potential impact of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation on the
execution of U.S. military shipbuilding programs, see CRS Report RL32665, Navy Force
Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke.
Risk Due to Technical Challenges
Overview
Independent of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation, at least two technical challenges have
already been reported in the Columbia-class program, one first reported in 2017 involving an
electric motor,33 and another first reported in 2018 involving faulty welds in the first missile tube
sections being built for the lead boat.34 Navy officials have stated that neither of these challenges
jeopardized the leads boat’s schedule for being ready for its first patrol in 2031, in part because
the Navy—recognizing that it had not built SSBN missile tube sections in many years—had built
23 months of margin into the schedule for manufacturing the missile tube sections. (This is in part
why manufacturing of missile tube sections began well ahead of fabrication work on other parts
of the submarine.) The problem with the welds reportedly absorbed up to 15 months of that
margin, but even after absorbing that delay, 8 or more months of margin remained, and the Navy
is working to regain some of the lost margin.

32 Ben Werner, “Pandemic Isn’t Slowing Down Columbia-Class Submarine Construction,” USNI News, April 29, 2020.
33 See, for example, John Grady, “Navy to Congress: Columbia-class Submarine Program Still on Schedule with Little
Margin for Error,” USNI News, March 21, 2018; Julia Bergman, “Columbia Submarine Prototype Has First Glitch,”
The Day (New London), May 5, 2017; Anthony Capaccio, “Navy Sub’s Overheating Motor First Glitch in $126 Billion
System,” Bloomberg, May 4, 2017. See also Government Accountability Office, Columbia Class Submarine[:] Overly
Optimistic Cost Estimate Will Likely Lead to Budget Increases
, GAO-19-497, April 2019, p. 19.
34 See, for example, David B. Larter, “The US Navy’s Top Acquisition Priority Stumbles Out of the Gate,” Defense
News
, August 6, 2018; Colin Clark and Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., “Nuke Sub Launch Tube Problems Found: ‘Warning
Flags Are Up,’” Breaking Defense, August 7, 2018; Ben Werner, “Navy Evaluating Possible Columbia-class Sub
Delays Caused by Missile Tube Weld Issues,” USNI News, August 8, 2018; Jason Sherman, “Supplier of Faulty
Welding on Subs Working to Understand Scope of Defects,” Inside the Navy, August 10, 2018; Ben Werner,
“‘Substantial’ Columbia-class Missile Tube Weld Fix Will Cost $27 Million, Take a Year,” USNI News, November 7,
2019; Megan Eckstein, “Columbia-class Program Upping Oversight of Vendors, Components to Stave Off Further
Delays,” USNI News, November 8, 2019; Paul McLeary, “Navy Rushes To Check Contractors After Submarine
‘Debacle,’” Breaking Defense, November 8, 2018; Dan Leone, “Welding Mistake With Columbia Missile Tubes Was
Bigger Problem Than BWXT Thought,” Defense Daily, November 9, 2018; Marjorie Censer, “BWX Technologies
Takes $27 Million Charge for Missile Tube Rework,” Inside the Navy, November 12, 2018; Justin Katz and Mallory
Shelbourne, “Navy Conducting New Inspections of Columbia-Class Submarine Vendors,” Inside the Navy, November
12, 2018.
See also Government Accountability Office, Columbia Class Submarine[:] Overly Optimistic Cost Estimate Will Likely
Lead to Budget Increases
, GAO-19-497, April 2019, pp. 19-20.
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Technical challenges could arise in various parts of the ship. One area that may bear close
watching is the ship’s electric-drive propulsion system, which is quite different than the
mechanical-drive system used in other Navy nuclear-powered submarines.35
Until such time that the Navy can find ways to generate additional margin inside the program’s
schedule, the program appears to be in a situation where many things need to go right, and few
things can go wrong, between now and 2031 for the lead boat to be ready for its first patrol in
2031.36 In assessing this situation, it can be noted on the one hand that the Columbia-class
program’s status as the Navy’s top priority program means that the program can be a high
claimant for funding and personnel (including engineers, supervisors, and managers) that can be
used to reduce the risk of occurrence of technical challenges that could threaten the lead boat’s
2031 first-patrol date. On the other hand, it can be noted that the lead ship in the Columbia-class
program, like the lead ships in most Navy shipbuilding programs, is serving as the program’s
prototype, creating an inherent risk of technical challenges.
Navy Perspective
To help mitigate the risk of technical challenges causing delays that threaten the lead boat’s 2031
first-patrol date, the Navy has been working to generate additional margin inside the schedule for
designing and building the lead boat, so as to provide more ability for absorbing delays and
thereby make the schedule less brittle and more resilient.37 At a March 27, 2019, hearing before
the Seapower subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Navy shipbuilding
programs, Navy officials testified that for the Columbia-class program,
the Navy is implementing Continuous Production on selected shipyard-manufactured items
to reduce cost and schedule risk and help strengthen the industrial base with a focus on
critical vendors. Advance Construction activities are set to start in June 2019 at General
Dynamics Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News to proactively
manage schedule margin and reduce controlling path risks for COLUMBIA.38

35 The Navy in the past has built two electric-drive nuclear-powered submarines—the one-of-a-kind attack submarine
Tullibee (SSN-597), which was commissioned in 1960 and decommissioned in 1988, and the one-of-a-kind attack
submarine Glenard P. Lipscomb (SSN-685) which was commissioned in 1974 and decommissioned in 1990. Those two
submarines, however, were designed many years ago, and used electric-drive technology that was different from that in
the Columbia-class design. The Navy in recent years has built some surface ships with electric-drive propulsion
systems, including 14 Lewis and Clark (TAKE-1) dry cargo ships and three Zumwalt (DDG-1000) destroyers, but the
electric-drive technology in those ships, though more modern than that of SSNs 597 and 685, is different and in some
respects less advanced than that planned for the Columbia-class design. The Navy has never before built a series-
production nuclear-powered submarine class with electric-drive propulsion, and has never built a ship of any kind
(surface or submarine) using the combination of advanced electric-drive technologies planned for the Columbia-class
design.
36 For additional discussion, see, for example, Jon Harper, “Columbia-Class Program Must Navigate Sea of Risks,”
National Defense, November 5, 2018; Dan Leone, “Officers Send Conflicting Signals on Columbia Program Margin,”
Defense Daily, February 28, 2019.
37 See, for example, Megan Eckstein, “PEO Subs Working To Buy Back Schedule in Ohio Replacement Program,”
USNI News, November 1, 2016.
38 Statement of The Honorable James F. Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and
Acquisition ASN(RD&A) and Vice Admiral William R. Merz, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems
(OPNAV N9) and Lieutenant General David H. Berger, Deputy Commandant, Combat Development and Integration &
Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, before the Subcommittee on Seapower of the
Senate Armed Services Committee on the Department of the Navy Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Request for Shipbuilding
Programs, March 27, 2019, p. 7.
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The Navy has been working for years to mitigate the risks associated with the Columbia-class
design’s electric-drive system through a technology-development process that includes testing
and validation with land-based component prototypes.39
A May 8, 2019, press report states the following:
The Navy will have the most complete design ever and will be well into construction when
the “official start” of construction on the lead Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine
occurs on Oct. 1, 2020, the service’s program manager said.
Capt. Jon Rucker said this week that his Columbia class of SSBNs is on a tight schedule—
not just to deliver the lead ship in time for an October 2030 first patrol, but to deliver each
subsequent ship on time for their own patrols too, as the Ohio-class boomers retire in rapid
succession. But his program is managing the risks associated with the tight timeline as best
as it can, including bumping up quite a bit of work before the construction phase officially
begins.
While October 2020 is the official start of construction, Newport News Shipbuilding will
kick off its advance construction efforts on June 7, he said, and prime contractor General
Dynamics’ Electric Boat is already doing prototyping and advance construction work.
Whereas lead ship USS Virginia (SSN-774) was only 1 percent complete when its
construction officially began, USS Columbia (SSBN-826) will be 11 percent complete,
Rucker said while speaking at the Navy League’s annual Sea Air Space conference.
“We are trying to get ahead of that curve to de-risk this program so we can achieve that
schedule,” he said, noting that the Columbia-class boomers would be the largest
submarines ever built in the United States.
The approximately 420 ship specifications and requirements are completed, he said, and
the 4,100 design arrangements are about 97.5 percent complete. The Navy is already 44
percent through finalizing the 4.650 design disclosures and is on track to be 83 percent
done with the disclosures at the start of construction. In comparison, USS Ohio (SSGN-
726) was just 2 percent through disclosures when its construction began; USS Seawolf
(SSN-575) was 4 percent complete, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) was 27 percent
complete and Virginia was 43 percent complete.
Rucker called this drive to be largely done with the design disclosures—which outline not
just the design but the measurements, details about the material, how to build the
component and more—an effort to save time and money and to reduce risk, since it will
avoid changes later on that will cost time and money.
Rucker also announced that, in support of the propeller and propulsor, which take four to
five years to build, “the first component of the lead ship Columbia was poured on May 1.
So 175,000 pounds—I won’t tell you what it is, I’m not allowed to—175,000 pounds, first
component for Columbia, on schedule.”
The captain made clear there is still risk in this program, which Navy leadership regularly
acknowledges is the service’s top priority and will continue to get all the funding it needs,
but still remains risky due to the tight schedule it’s on. Chief of Naval Operations Adm.
John Richardson told lawmakers recently that “we are on schedule, but just on schedule.
We are on cost, but just on cost.”

39 It might also be argued that while developing the electric-drive system involves overcoming certain technical
challenges, developing a mechanical-drive system for the Columbia-class program would have involved not-
insignificant technical challenges of its own, and in the end might have produced a system that could not meet the
Columbia-class’s performance requirements, which are more demanding in certain respects than those of the Ohio
class.
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Rucker said in his speech that “there are risks—however, they are risks that we understand
and we’re proactively managing.”
Perhaps somewhat counterintuitively, the Navy is reducing some schedule risk by adding
concurrency to the program—crunching the amount of time between the design process
and the construction process in certain areas of the submarine where the design is simpler
and needs less time for review before construction begins.
Rucker told USNI News during his presentation that the Navy likes to have 52 weeks
between design and construction. However, “there are cases where we made a conscious
decision to reduce that down to about 30 to 40 weeks. So we reduced it, but in those areas
we are micromanaging it every day as we go through, and so we feel that risk is perfectly
manageable. Most of the stuff isn’t the complex stuff—it would be like the structural stuff,
it’s the basic building a deck, building a foundation, building a tank.”
Pulling some of this construction ahead despite what on paper looks like more concurrency
risk is what will allow the program to reach 11-percent completion before construction
officially starts.
“That concurrency is not what you would think that, a person’s designing it and they’re
building it in parallel,” Rucker made clear.…
Richardson said in his recent testimony to lawmakers that he and Navy Secretary Richard
V. Spencer “have made it very clear that, looking forward and anticipating those things
that will inevitably arise during testing and everything in such a complex program, we need
to work diligently to build more margin into the program.”40
An October 8, 2019 press report states
The U.S. Navy’s program for its next-generation ballistic-missile submarine (SSBN), the
Columbia class, is on track to start construction on time, but the program has a tight
schedule with little margin for delay, the program manager said.
“Our biggest risk today is the supplier base,” said Capt. Jon Rucker, program manager for
the Columbia SSBN, speaking Oct. 8 at the eighth annual TRIAD Conference in the
Washington, D.C., area.
Rucker pointed out that when construction of the current Ohio class began, a supplier base
of 17,000 companies contributed to the materiel and systems for the boat. Today, the
Columbia program is pressing forward with only 3,000 suppliers.
The supply of skilled shipyard workers also is a concern to Rucker. He noted that General
Dynamics Electric Boat, the prime contractor for the Columbia, is increasing its workforce
to 20,000 from 17,000 workers. But the hiring is drawing skilled workers from naval
shipyards that routinely maintain subs and carriers.
Rucker said that robots have been used in building the Common Missile Compartment for
the Columbia class and the U.K. Royal Navy’s Dreadnought-class SSBN. Robots used in
welding the missile tubes to the bottom of the hull section took 44 minutes and 8 seconds,
compared with 4 days for a human worker.
Electric Boat has invested $1.8 billion in facilities to build the Columbia class and
Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division is spending $800
million to $900 million to support the construction, Rucker said….

40 Megan Eckstein, “Navy: USS Columbia Will Have Most Complete Design Ever at Official Construction Start,”
USNI News, May 8, 2019.
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Rucker noted that the Columbia program has a high design maturity, with a design that will
be 83% at construction start. By contrast, the Ohio design was only 2% complete at
construction start.
“We make sure we keep stable requirements,” he said.41
GAO Perspective
A June 2020 GAO report assessing selected major DOD weapon acquisition programs
additionally stated the following regarding the Columbia-class program:
Technology Maturity and Design Stability
The Columbia class program continues to monitor one critical technology—the stern area
system, which it anticipates will reach maturity in mid-2022. The Navy reports that another
technology it previously identified as critical—a carbon dioxide removal system—has
matured to the point it is no longer considered critical. In December 2017, we reported that
the nuclear reactor, integrated power system, propulsor and shafting met GAO’s definition
of critical technologies, but the Navy did not identify them as such.
Navy officials reported that the nuclear reactor is mature as of late 2018 based on its
evaluation of test data, but several other technologies we previously identified as critical
remain immature. Manufacturing challenges delayed the delivery of the integrated power
system’s first production-representative motor by 2 years, from 2017 to 2019.The Navy
still plans to concurrently test the motor, update its design, and build the lead submarine’s
motor, then deliver the integrated power system to the shipyard in October 2022 as
scheduled despite the compressed timeframe created by this delay. Finally, the Navy does
not expect the propulsor and shafting to reach maturity until after the lead submarine is
delivered in fiscal year 2026, because the Navy does not plan to test all components
together in their final form, fit, and function prior to delivery. If deficiencies in these
immature technologies emerge during testing, they could cause costly and time-intensive
design changes and re-work, jeopardizing the lead submarine’s first patrol date.
As of September 2019, the shipbuilder had completed 100 percent of the basic and
functional design of the submarine—consistent with best practices, but risks to design
stability remain. Design stability is based on assumptions about the final form, fit, and
function of critical technologies and how those technologies will perform in a realistic
environment, which the program has not fully demonstrated. Further, a key tenet of the
program’s cost and schedule goals assumes that the shipbuilder will complete 83 percent
of detail design by October 2020. Over the past year, the shipbuilder missed its monthly
detail design goals due to inefficient design software. Program officials report the
shipbuilder increased its design staff in an effort to recover its schedule. However, delayed
detail designs are impacting material orders, slowing construction progress, and
jeopardizing the design completion goal.
Production Readiness
The Navy plans to begin construction in October 2020, but already began some work
starting in December 2018. Through its advance construction efforts the Navy believes that
the shipbuilder can achieve the lead submarine’s aggressive 84-month construction
schedule. For example, the Navy has been constructing missile tubes for the common
missile compartment since 2014 to prove production capabilities. However, in 2018 and
2019 the shipbuilder found that some tubes the Navy planned to install on the lead
submarine had weld defects. As a result, the shipbuilder will produce a replacement missile
tube section for the lead submarine. Navy officials report they are still assessing the cost

41 Richard R. Burgess, “Columbia Program Manager: Missile Sub Still on Schedule, But Suppliers Present Biggest
Risk for Delay,” Seapower, October 8, 2019.
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and schedule impacts of this change due to repair delays and issues with a second tube
vendor.
Software and Cybersecurity
The program involves a software development effort, but it does not track software
development as part of its cost and schedule reporting structure. According to program
officials, they do not track costs in part because some of their software was developed by
another Navy program, and other software is reused from other ships with minor
modifications.
The program has an approved cybersecurity strategy and has completed several
cybersecurity assessments, including adversarial assessments during developmental and
operational testing. The program is scheduled to complete an evaluation for potential
cybersecurity vulnerabilities in December 2020.
Other Program Issues
Supplier quality and capacity continue to pose a risk to the lead submarine’s delivery
schedule. After discovering defective missile tube welds, the Navy and shipbuilder
reviewed supplier quality assurance practices and found weld quality problems throughout
the industrial base due to increased demand from shipbuilding programs and a reduction in
independent supplier oversight. The Navy is increasing oversight of high-risk suppliers and
investing in improving quality. At the same time, the Navy has accelerated its plans to
finalize negotiations and award the shipbuilder a contract option for the first two
submarines from October to May 2020. The Navy plans to exercise the option in early
fiscal year 2021.
Program Office Comments
We provided a draft of this assessment to the program office for review and comment. The
program office provided technical comments, which we incorporated where appropriate.
The program office stated that an updated cost estimate is being finalized to inform lead
submarine funding. According to the program, the Navy recognizes that its supplier base
remains high risk and is committed to increased oversight on manufacturing issues and
readiness assessments. The program said it complies with all Navy, DOD, and statutory
requirements for managing critical technologies, and that proving the technologies in a
relevant environment would add costs and delay building the lead submarine.42
Pricing of Proposed FY2021 Work
Another issue for Congress is whether the Navy has accurately priced the work it is proposing to
do in the Columbia-class program in FY2021. This is a standard oversight issue for DOD
acquisition programs, but one new factor that may be considered in relation to the question is
whether the Navy’s pricing of the work it is proposing to do in FY2021 will be affected by the
above-discussed COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation, and if so, in what ways.

42 Government Accountability Office, Defense Acquisitions Annual Assessment[:] Drive to Deliver Capabilities Faster
Increases Importance of Program Knowledge and Consistent Data for Oversight
, GAO-20-439, June 2020, p. 138.
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Risk of Cost Growth
Overview
Another oversight issue for Congress is the risk of cost growth in the program. As detailed by
CBO43 and GAO,44 lead ships in Navy shipbuilding programs in many cases have turned out to be
more expensive to build than the Navy had estimated. As discussed in further detail below, CBO
and GAO have concluded that there is a significant risk of cost growth in the Columbia-class
program.
Navy officials, as discussed earlier, have stated consistently since 2013 that the Columbia-class
program is the Navy’s top priority program, and that this means, among other things, that from
the Navy’s perspective, the Columbia-class program will be funded, even if that comes at the
expense of funding for other Navy programs. Given this, the impact of cost growth in the
Columbia-class program in a situation of finite DOD funding might be not so much on the
execution of the Columbia-class program itself as on the consequent affordability of other DOD
programs, perhaps particularly other Navy shipbuilding programs. The issue of the potential
impact of the Columbia-class program on the affordability of other DOD programs is discussed in
a subsequent section of this report.
Navy Perspective
Navy Confidence Level at Milestone B Was Less Than 50%
A January 30, 2020, Navy information paper provided to CRS and CBO states that, at the time of
Milestone B for the Columbia-class program, the Navy had assigned a confidence level of 43% to
its estimated procurement cost for the lead ship in the Columbia class and a confidence level of
46% to its estimated average procurement cost for ships 2 through 12 in program. What this
means is that the Navy at the time of Milestone B had calculated that there was more than a 50%
chance that the procurement costs of Columbia-class boats would turn out to be greater than what
the Navy estimates. The January 30, 2020, Navy information paper states the following:
The Milestone B Service Cost Position established [in] January 2017 is the most recent
analysis for the COLUMBIA program that updated risk estimates for Lead Ship End Cost
less Plans and the Average Follow Ship End Cost. The confidence levels associated with
the Milestone B Service Cost Position for Lead Ship End Cost less Plans and Average
Follow Ship End Cost estimates are approximately 43% and 46% respectively.45
The January 30, 2020, Navy information paper provided the confidence levels and corresponding
estimated unit procurement costs shown in Table 2.

43 See Congressional Budget Office, An Analysis of the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2019 Shipbuilding Plan, October 2018, p.
25, including Figure 10.
44 See Government Accountability Office, Navy Shipbuilding[:] Past Performance Provides Valuable Lessons for
Future Investments
, GAO-18-238SP, June 2018, p. 8.
45 Navy information paper, “Update on Confidence Levels for COLUMBIA Lead Ship and Follow Ship,” January 30,
2020, received by CRS and CBO from Navy Legislative Affairs Office, February 10, 2020.
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Table 2. Navy Confidence Levels for Estimated Columbia-Class Unit
Procurement Costs
(dollars figures in billions of constant 2019 dollars)
Average end
Confidence
End cost of lead
cost of ships
level decile
ship (less plans)
2-12
30%
$8.1
$6.3
40%
$8.4
$6.6
50%
$8.7
$6.9
60%
$9.0
$7.1
70%
$9.3
$7.4
80%
$9.6
$7.8
Source: Navy information paper, “Update on Confidence Levels for COLUMBIA Lead Ship and Fol ow Ship,”
January 30, 2020, received by CRS and CBO from Navy Legislative Affairs Office, February 10, 2020.
Notes: End cost of lead ship includes cost for the ship’s missile tube module, which was funded through the
Navy’s research and development account.
Navy Confidence Level as of May 2019 Was 50%
Navy officials stated in May 2019 that during the time that has transpired since Milestone B,
certain risk elements affecting the calculation of confidence levels have been retired, and that as a
result, the Navy’s confidence level for its costs estimates had increased to 50%, meaning that the
Navy as of May 2019 calculated that there is a 50% chance that the procurement costs of
Columbia-class boats will turn out to be greater than what the Navy estimates, and a 50% chance
that it will turn out to be less than what the Navy estimates. Navy officials also stated in May
2019 that a confidence level of 50% is where they want the Navy’s estimate to be.46
CBO Perspective
An October 2019 CBO report on the cost of the Navy’s shipbuilding programs stated the
following (emphasis added):
The cost of the 12 Columbia class submarines included in the 2020 shipbuilding plan is
one of the most significant uncertainties in the Navy’s and CBO’s analyses of future
shipbuilding costs….
According to the Navy’s estimate, the cost per thousand tons for the first Columbia would
be 14 percent less than that of the first Virginia class attack submarine—an improvement
that would affect costs for the entire new class of ballistic missile submarines. The Navy
anticipates lower costs per thousand tons for the Columbia because it plans to recycle, to
the extent possible, the design, technology, and components used for the Virginia class.
Furthermore, because ballistic missile submarines like the Columbia class tend to be larger
and less densely built than attack submarines like the Virginia class, the Navy maintains
that they will be easier to build and thus less expensive per thousand tons. The Navy has
stated, however, that there is a 50 percent chance that the cost of the first Columbia and
subsequent ships of the class will exceed its estimates, and CBO’s cost estimates are about
9 percent greater than the Navy’s.

46 Source: Navy briefing on Columbia class program for CRS and CBO, May 13, 2019.
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The costs of lead ships of new classes of submarines built in the 1970s and 1980s provide
little evidence that ballistic missile submarines are cheaper per ton to build than attack
submarines…. The first Ohio class submarine was more expensive to build than the lead
ships of the two classes of attack submarines built during the same period—the Los
Angeles and the Improved Los Angeles. (The design of the Improved Los Angeles included
the addition of 12 vertical-launch system cells.) In addition, the average cost-to-weight
ratio of the first 12 or 13 ships of the class was virtually identical for the Ohio, Los Angeles,
and Improved Los Angeles classes.
Moreover, although the cost by weight of lead ships for submarines had grown
substantially by the 1990s, there was still little evidence that submarine size affected the
cost per thousand tons. The first Virginia class submarine, which was ordered in 1998, cost
about the same per thousand tons as the first Seawolf submarine even though the Seawolf
is 20 percent larger and was built nine years earlier.
CBO estimates that purchasing the first Columbia class submarine would cost $14.0
billion, $700 million more than the Navy estimates.
Estimating the cost of the lead ship
of a class with a new design is particularly difficult because of uncertainty about how much
the Navy will spend on nonrecurring engineering and detailed design. Including
appropriations from 2017 to 2019, CBO estimates that, all told, 12 Columbia class
submarines would cost $95 billion (of which $90 billion would occur between 2020
and 2036), or an average of $7.9 billion each—$700 million more per submarine than
the Navy estimates. That average is based on the $14.0 billion estimated cost of the
lead submarine and an average cost of $7.4 billion estimated for the 2nd through 12th
submarines. Research and development would cost between $14 billion and $18
billion, CBO estimates.

Overall, the Navy expects a 14 percent improvement in the cost-to-weight ratio of the
Columbia class compared with the first 12 submarines in the Virginia class. Given the
history of submarine construction, however, CBO is less optimistic than the Navy. CBO
estimates that the Navy would realize a 6 percent improvement, stemming in part from the
projected savings attributable to the concurrent production of the Columbia and Virginia
class submarines.
The costs for the Columbia class submarines could be lower than the Navy and CBO
project, depending on the acquisition strategy. The Navy is purchasing the submarines
through the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund, which was established by the Carl Levin
and Howard P. “Buck” McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015
(P.L. 113-291). The Congress appropriates money for the program in the Navy’s main
shipbuilding account, and then DoD transfers money into the fund. The Navy could realize
savings from special procurement authorities associated with that fund, such as the ability
to purchase components and materials for several submarines, and possibly for other ships,
at the same time.
Further savings could be considerable if, for example, lawmakers authorized the Navy to
use a block-buy strategy—an approach it has used with other types of ships. A block-buy
strategy allows the Navy to purchase a group of submarines over a specified period
(effectively lowering the price of the ships by promising a steady stream of work for the
shipyards) and to buy components and materials for the submarines in optimal amounts
that minimize costs (known as economic order quantities).22 One disadvantage of the
strategy is that if lawmakers later decided not to build all the submarines, materials that
were purchased for the unbuilt ships might go unused. A block-buy strategy might also
leave the Congress with less flexibility to change procurement plans or to purchase fewer
submarines if lawmakers did not approve of how the program was progressing.
Costs for the Columbia class submarines could, however, exceed both the Navy’s and
CBO’s estimates. The new SSBN would be the largest submarine that the United States
has ever built. It is expected to reuse some technology and components from the Virginia
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class submarine, but it would also include many new elements, such as an all-electric drive
system, an X-stern ship control system (where the rear rudders and dive planes are shaped
like an X, rather than a + as on the Ohio class), a new missile compartment, and a nuclear
reactor that is designed to last the entire 42-year service life of the submarine. One
production challenge that has already occurred on the new SSBN is that its missile tubes
required many welds to be redone, further tightening the Columbia class schedule. Such
challenges are not uncommon on lead ships, and they may indicate future difficulties. First
ships of a new class often experience substantial cost growth….47
GAO Perspective
An April 2019 GAO report on the Columbia-class program stated the following:
The Navy’s $115 billion procurement cost estimate is not reliable partly because it is based
on overly optimistic assumptions about the labor hours needed to construct the submarines.
While the Navy analyzed cost risks, it did not include margin in its estimate for likely cost
overruns. The Navy told us it will continue to update its lead submarine cost estimate, but
an independent assessment of the estimate may not be complete in time to inform the
Navy’s 2021 budget request to Congress to purchase the lead submarine. Without these
reviews, the cost estimate—and, consequently, the budget—may be unrealistic. A reliable
cost estimate is especially important for a program of this size and complexity to help
ensure that its budget is sufficient to execute the program as planned.
The Navy is using the congressionally-authorized National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund to
construct the Columbia class. The Fund allows the Navy to purchase material and start
construction early on multiple submarines prior to receiving congressional authorization
and funding for submarine construction. The Navy anticipates achieving savings through
use of the Fund, such as buying certain components early and in bulk, but did not include
the savings in its cost estimate. The Navy may have overestimated its savings as higher
than those historically achieved by other such programs. Without an updated cost estimate
and cost risk analysis, including a realistic estimate of savings, the fiscal year 2021 budget
request may not reflect funding needed to construct the submarine.48
Cost-Plus Incentive Fee (CPIF) Contract
Another aspect of the issue of the risk of cost growth in the program concerns the Navy’s intent to
use a cost-plus incentive fee (CPIF) contract rather than a fixed-priced contract to procure the
first two ships in the class. Skeptics could argue that using a CPIF contract will increase the risk
of cost growth on the first two ships because it will insulate the builders from much of the
financial risk of cost growth, providing them with a reduced incentive to control costs. They
could argue that while the Navy has used cost-plus type contracts for lead ships in other
shipbuilding programs, the Navy in this case is proposing to use one for a two-ship contract,
extending the risk of cost growth to the second ship in the program. They could argue that while
insulating builders from the risks and uncertainties of building lead ships has been a traditional
shipbuilding consideration, the risks in this case are to be reduced by the Navy’s strategy of
bringing the Columbia-class design to a high state of completion prior to starting construction on
the lead ship.

47 Congressional Budget Office, An Analysis of the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2020 Shipbuilding Plan, October 2019, pp. 19-
22.
48 Government Accountability Office, Columbia Class Submarine[:] Overly Optimistic Cost Estimate Will Likely Lead
to Budget Increases
, GAO-19-497, April 2019, summary page.
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Supporters of using a cost-plus type contract could argue that doing so is a traditional approach
for procuring a lead ship in a Navy shipbuilding program that recognizes that the lead ship in
effect serves as the program’s prototype and thus presents the builders with substantial risks and
uncertainties regarding construction costs, even with a design that has been brought to a high state
of completion prior to starting construction. They could argue that this is particularly true in this
case, given that this is the first lead ship in a Navy SSBN program to start construction in about
47 years.49 They could argue that builders will still have an incentive to control costs because of
the incentive fee in the contract, and because they understand that cost growth in the Columbia-
class program could reduce funding available for other Navy priorities, including procurement of
Virginia-class attack submarines that these firms also build.
Program Affordability and Impact on Other Navy
Shipbuilding Programs
Another issue for Congress—one that observers have focused on for several years—concerns the
potential impact of the Columbia-class program on funding that will be available for other Navy
programs, including other shipbuilding programs, particularly during the 10-year period FY2026-
FY2035, when the Navy plans to procure one Columbia-class boat per year. Other things held
equal, cost growth in the Columbia-class program (see the earlier discussion of the risk of cost
growth in the program) could reinforce concerns about the potential impact of the Columbia-class
program on funding that will be available for other Navy programs, including other shipbuilding
programs. Even without such cost growth, however, this issue would remain as a matter of
concern.
Starting in FY2026, when the Navy plans to procure one Columbia-class boat per year for a
period of 10 years, the Navy estimates that the Columbia-class program will require, in constant
FY2019 dollars, roughly $7 billion per year in procurement funding.50 Several years ago, when
the Navy’s shipbuilding budget was being funded at a level of roughly $14 billion per year,
observers were concerned that the Columbia-class program during the period FY2026-FY2035
could absorb as much as half of the Navy’s shipbuilding budget, leaving relatively little funding
available for all other Navy shipbuilding programs. Over the last several years, the Navy’s
shipbuilding budget has been increased to an annual funding level of roughly $24 billion per year.
In a context of a shipbuilding budget of roughly $24 billion per year, a Columbia-class
requirement for roughly $7 billion per year does not loom as large proportionately as it once did.
Concerns remain, however, about funding that will be available for the procurement of other
kinds of ships. The Navy’s report on its FY2020 30-year shipbuilding plan states the following:
The fiscal impact of the new SSBN begins in FY2023 with advanced procurement
[funding], and then increases in FY2026 with full annual procurements. This represents
Navy’s largest fiscal challenge for near-term budgets and could impact the pace of
procuring other ship types – potentially causing a drop below the steady profiles [shown
elsewhere in this report].51

49 The lead ship in the Ohio-class SSBN program was procured in FY1974—47 years before the scheduled FY2021
procurement date for the lead ship in the Columbia-class program.
50 See U.S. Navy, Report to Congress on the Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for Fiscal
Year 2020
, Figure A4-1 on p. 18.
51 See U.S. Navy, Report to Congress on the Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for Fiscal
Year 2020
, p. 7. A similar statement appears on page 17. See also Megan Eckstein, “Navy Wants Alternative Funding
for Columbia SSBNs to Accelerate 355-Ship Fleet,” USNI News, November 27, 2018; Rich Abott, “Navy Looking For
Separate Funding For Columbia Subs,” Defense Daily, November 30, 2018.
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At a March 27, 2019, hearing before the Seapower subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services
Committee on Navy shipbuilding programs, Navy officials testified that
the COLUMBIA Class program remains the Navy’s number one acquisition priority
program and is on track to start construction in October 2020 and deliver to pace the
retirement of our current ballistic missile submarines, deploying for its first patrol in FY
2031. To better align focus and resources and ensure successful delivery of this program
to the Fleet, DON has established Program Executive Office COLUMBIA. Additional
resources above the Navy’s [budget] topline will be required for the Navy to fund serial
production of the COLUMBIA Class SSBN and maintain its planned shipbuilding
profile.52
The creation of the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund (NSBDF) and the amending of the
statute governing the fund to include special acquisition authorities can be viewed as one
response to concerns about the potential impact of the Columbia-class program on funding that
will be available for other Navy programs, including other shipbuilding programs. For additional
information about the NSBDF, see Appendix E.
Another potential option for reducing the potential impact of the Columbia-class program on
funding that will be available for other Navy programs, including other shipbuilding programs,
would be to reduce the Columbia-class program to something fewer than 12 boats. Over the
years, for various reasons, some observers have advocated or presented options for an SSBN
force of fewer than 12 SSBNs. A November 2013 CBO report on options for reducing the federal
budget deficit, for example, presented an option for reducing the SSBN force to 8 boats as a cost-
reduction measure.53 Earlier CBO reports have presented options for reducing the SSBN force to
10 boats as a cost-reduction measure.54 CBO reports that present such options also provide
notional arguments for and against the options. A June 2010 report by a group known as the
Sustainable Defense Task Force recommended reducing the SSBN force to 7 boats,55 a September
2010 report from the Cato Institute recommended reducing the SSBN force to 6 boats,56 and a
September 2013 report from a group organized by the Stimson Center recommended reducing the
force to 10 boats.57
Views on whether a force of fewer than 12 Columbia-class boats would be appropriate could
depend on, among other things, assessments of strategic nuclear threats to the United States and
the role of SSBNs in deterring such threats as a part of overall U.S. strategic nuclear forces, as
influenced by the terms of strategic nuclear arms control agreements.58 Reducing the number of

52 Statement of The Honorable James F. Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and
Acquisition ASN(RD&A) and Vice Admiral William R. Merz, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems
(OPNAV N9) and Lieutenant General David H. Berger, Deputy Commandant, Combat Development and Integration &
Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, before the Subcommittee on Seapower of the
Senate Armed Services Committee on the Department of the Navy Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Request for Shipbuilding
Programs, March 27, 2019, p. 6.
53 Congressional Budget Office, Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2014 to 2023, November 2013, pp. 68-69.
54 See, for example, Congressional Budget Office, Rethinking the Trident Force, July 1993, 78 pp.; and Congressional
Budget Office, Budget Options, March 2000, p. 62.
55 Debt, Deficits, and Defense, A Way Forward[:] Report of the Sustainable Defense Task Force, June 11, 2010, pp.
19-20.
56 Benjamin H. Friedman and Christopher Preble, Budgetary Savings from Military Restraint, Washington, Cato
Institute, September 23, 2010 (Policy Analysis No. 667), p. 8.
57 Strategic Agility: Strong National Defense for Today’s Global and Fiscal Realities, Stimson, Washington, DC, 2013,
p. 29. (Sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Prepared by Stimson, September 2013.)
58 For further discussion, see CRS Report RL33640, U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and
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SSBNs below 12 could also raise a question as to whether the force should continue to be
homeported at both Bangor, WA, and Kings Bay, GA, or consolidated at a single location. The
Navy’s position is that the current requirement for having a certain number of SSBNs on patrol
translates into a need for a force of 14 Ohio-class boats, and that this requirement can be met in
the future by a force of 12 Columbia-class boats.
Industrial-Base Challenges of Building Both Columbia- and
Virginia-Class Boats
Another oversight issue for Congress concerns potential industrial-base challenges of building
both Columbia-class boats and Virginia-class attack submarines (SSNs) at the same time,
particularly as procurement of Virginia-class submarines shifts to production of a new and larger
version of the Virginia-class design that incorporates an additional mid-ship section called the
Virginia Payload Module (VPM).59 Observers have expressed concern about the industrial base’s
capacity for building both Columbia- and Virginia-class boats without encountering bottlenecks
or other production problems in one or both of these programs. Concerns about the ability of the
submarine construction industrial base to execute an eventual procurement rate of two VPM-
equipped Virginia-class boats and one Columbia-class boat per year have been heightened by
recent reports of challenges faced by the two submarine-construction shipyards (GD/EB and
HII/NNS), as well as submarine component supplier firms in meeting scheduled delivery times
for Virginia-class boats as the Virginia-class program transitions over time from production of
two “regular” Virginia-class boats per year to two VPM-equipped boats per year.60 Potential
oversight questions for Congress include the following:
 Do the Navy and the submarine builders agree on the question of the capacity of
the industrial base to support various potential Columbia- and Virginia-class
workloads?
 What steps are the Navy, the submarine builders, and submarine supplier firms
taking to bring the capacity of the industrial base more into alignment with
desired submarine procurement rates? What are the costs of these steps, and what
portion of these costs will be borne by the government?
Regarding the second bullet point above, a November 7, 2019, press report states

Issues, by Amy F. Woolf.
59 For more on the VPM, see CRS Report RL32418, Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement:
Background and Issues for Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke.
60 See, for example, Government Accountability Office, Columbia Class Submarine[:] Overly Optimistic Cost Estimate
Will Likely Lead to Budget Increases
, GAO-19-497, April 2019, pp. 20-23; David B. Larter, “Late Is the New Normal
for Virginia-Class Attack Boats,” Defense News, March 20, 2019; Megan Eckstein, “Navy: Lack of Submarine Parts
Slowing Down Maintenance, New Construction,” USNI News, March 26, 2019; David B. Larter, “The US Navy,
Seeking Savings, Shakes Up Its Plans for More Lethal Attack Submarines,” Defense News, April 3, 2019; Anthony
Capaccio, “U.S. Navy Sub Firepower Upgrade Delayed by Welding Flaws,” Bloomberg, August 13, 2019; Paul
McLeary, “Weld Problems Spread To Second Navy Sub Program,” Breaking Defense, August 14, 2019; David B.
Larter, “Questions About US Navy Attack Sub Program Linger as Contract Negotiations Drag,” Defense News, August
16, 2019; Emma Watkins, “Will the U.S. Navy Soon Have a Missile-Tube Problem?” National Interest, August 19,
2019; David B. Larter, “As CNO Richardson Departs, US Submarine Builders Face Pressure,” Defense News, August
22, 2019; David B. Larter, “After a Leadership Shakeup at General Dynamics, a Murky Future for Submarine
Building,” Defense News, October 28, 2019; Rich Abott, “Navy Says Virginia Sub Delays Due To Faster Production
Rate,” Defense Daily, November 6, 2019.
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The Navy and submarine builders General Dynamics Electric Boat and Newport News
Shipbuilding are executing a recovery plan to get Block IV Virginia-class submarine
production back on track, after the last five submarines in Block III delivered late.
The Virginia-class program had previously been held up as a model of efficient
procurement, as the boats were delivering on-cost and on-schedule—or at times beating
cost and schedule—and former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus grew to joke about the program
as having a punch-card rewards program to get 10 subs for the price of nine. Delivery times
also dropped from 84 months to 72 and then to 66, on their way down to 60 months for
Block IV.
But as the program moved from building one a year to two a year, the subs stopped
delivering on time.
“The way we build our submarines, there’s four super modules [that make up each boat]:
two built at EB, two built at Newport News. From their module perspective, they have to
deliver a module (one of each kind) every six months. And you look the entire fabrication,
from the pipe shop to pre-fab to sub-modules to modules, when you’re at that cadence of
two per year, every part of that assembly line must be on cadence. At the pre-fab, at the
sub-module, the footprint, the people, the tools, the procedures. So what we learned is, if
you get out of cadence in any part of that step, you’re going to impact final assembly and
test. So that’s what happened,” Rear Adm. David Goggins, the program executive officer
for submarines, said in response to a USNI News question during a question-and-answer
session at the Naval Submarine League’s annual symposium.
“So the companies have put together a recovery plan. We have the metrics. And the key
thing is getting back to cadence across the entire production line, from the pipe shop, pre-
fab, sub-modules, modules and final assembly and test. Our plan has us getting back to
cadence by the end of next year,” he said.
Speaking to USNI News after the event, Goggins said that Newport News Shipbuilding
had expanded its footprint at its Virginia shipyard to try to keep up with the higher
workload, which wouldn’t be sustainable in the long-run as the shipyard also begins work
on the upcoming Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program.
“At Newport News they expanded to additional footprint, and now the key thing is, over
the next year and a half, through the end of next year, is getting those modules completed
on schedule,” Goggins told USNI News.
“So by the end of next year, we’re back to cadence and using the planned footprint with
the planned resources to go execute module deliveries.”
He said metrics are in place to ensure the company is on track to meet this goal. Asked if
any significant hurdles remain, he said, “they need to go execute the plan. They have the
people, they have the footprint, they have the tooling; they just have to go execute, which
they’re doing today.”
Tom Plante, the director of strategic planning for Electric Boat, told USNI News during a
September visit to the Connecticut shipyard that some of the vendors were unable to keep
up with the faster pace of shipbuilding, either sending parts late or sending parts with
deficiencies that had to be later ripped out of modules and replaced.
“We were challenged to meet our schedules in Block IV, and some of that is program
execution, some of that is ripples caused by [continuing resolutions] and funding and plus-
ups,” Plante said.
“If we get off that rhythm, if we get off that cadence, that causes these ripples, and it takes
multiple ships to work through that. If you have a supply problem—non-conforming
material comes in and I’ve got to stop, I’ve got to go assess, I’ve got to rip things out, I’ve
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got to re-do things—then that all adds time and cost to construction execution by
shipbuilders.”
Goggins said Wednesday [November 6] that it would be important to keep the recovery
plan on track and get the Virginia production line under control so problems don’t spill
over and affect the Columbia class of SSBNs.
“The key thing is getting back to cadence across the entire production line, and that is
needed to ensure the success of the Columbia program, which is key,” the rear admiral
said.
Despite the challenge keeping up with the faster delivery schedule, Goggins said the
Virginia-class submarines have been delivering at ever-higher quality. The future Delaware
(SSN-791) completed its sea trials on Oct. 10 and delivered on Oct. 25 and was the highest-
quality sub delivered to date, according to the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV)
report, Goggins said.61
Legislative Activity for FY2021
Summary of Congressional Action on FY2021 Funding Request
Table 3 below summarizes congressional action on the Navy’s FY2021 funding request for the
Columbia-class program. As part of its FY2021 budget submission, the Navy is requesting authority
to use incremental funding to fund the first two ships in the class.62
Table 3. Congressional Action on FY2021 Funding Request
(Millions of then-year dollars, rounded to nearest tenth; totals may not add due to rounding)
Authorization
Appropriation

Request
HASC
SASC
Conf.
HAC
SAC
Conf.
Department of Defense (DOD) Funding
Research and development (R&D)







PE0603570N (line 047)/Project 3219
80.1
80.1
80.1

80.1


PE0603595N (line 052/Project 3220
317.2
317.2
317.2

306.7


Subtotal R&D
397.3
397.3
397.3

386.8


Procurement







Procurement
2,891.5
2,891.5
2,891.5

2,862.2


Advance procurement (AP)
1,123.2
1,123.2
1,298.2

1,123.2


Subtotal Procurement
4,014.7
4,014.7
4,189.7

3,985.4


TOTAL DOD Funding
4,412.0 4,412.0
4,587.0

4,372.2


Department of Energy (DOE) funding
Naval Reactors—Columbia-class reactor
64.7
64.7
64.7

64.7


systems development

61 Megan Eckstein, “Navy, Sub Builders Have Recovery Plan to Get Virginia Attack Boat deliveries Back on
Schedule,” USNI News, November 7, 2019.
62 For more on incremental funding, see CRS Report RL31404, Defense Procurement: Full Funding Policy—
Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke and Stephen Daggett, and CRS Report RL32776,
Navy Ship Procurement: Alternative Funding Approaches—Background and Options for Congress, by Ronald
O'Rourke.
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Source: Navy FY2021 budget submission and committee and conference reports, explanatory statements on
FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act and FY2021 DOD Appropriations Act, and (for appropriations
figures for DOE Naval Reactors funding), committee and conference reports on the FY2021 Energy and Water
Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.
Notes: PE means Program Element, that is, a research and development line item. A Program Element may
include several projects. PE0603570N/Project 3219 is the SSBN(X) reactor plant project within the PE for
Advanced Nuclear Power Systems. PE0603595N/Project 3220 is the Sea-Based Strategic Deterrent (SBSD)
Advanced Submarine System Development project within the PE for Ohio Replacement. HASC is House
Armed Services Committee; SASC is Senate Armed Services Committee; HAC is House Appropriations
Committee; SAC is Senate Appropriations Committee; Conf. is conference agreement. SCN is Shipbuilding and
Conversion, Navy; NSBDF is National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund. The procurement funding requested for
FY2018 is advance procurement (AP) funding.
FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 6395/S. 4049)
House
The House Armed Services Committee, in its report (H.Rept. 116-442 of July 9, 2020) on H.R.
6395, recommended the funding levels shown in the HASC column of Table 3.
Section 1023 of H.R. 6395 as reported by the committee states:
SEC. 1023. USE OF NATIONAL SEA-BASED DETERRENCE FUND FOR
INCREMENTALLY FUNDED CONTRACTS TO PROVIDE FULL FUNDING FOR
COLUMBIA CLASS SUBMARINES.
Section 2218a(h)(1) of title 10, United States Code, is amended by striking ‘‘and properly
phased installment payments’’ and inserting ‘‘, properly phased installment payments, and
full funding for the first two Columbia 2 class submarines’’.
H.Rept. 116-442 states:
Submarine Supplier Development
The committee recognizes that the submarine supply base lost approximately 12,000
suppliers since the end of the Cold War. Material provided by the submarine industrial base
is planned to grow by more than 200 percent over the next 5 years, after more than two
decades of nurturing a fragile industrial base where 75 percent of funding for supplier
material was awarded to single or sole-source suppliers. Congress authorized and
appropriated funding in fiscal year 2019 and fiscal year 2020 and provided flexible
authorities supporting submarine industrial base expansion and stability initiatives. In
fiscal year 2019, the Navy identified 324 suppliers as execution-critical and has been
conducting assessments of the health and readiness of those suppliers. In the 2020
assessment, the number of critical suppliers has grown to 350, of which 61 have been
identified as challenged to meet future demand. The committee believes that continued
investment in supplier development will reduce material lead times and improve the ability
of the submarine industrial base to meet challenging construction schedules at higher rates
of production. Therefore, the committee encourages the Secretary of the Navy to include
supplier development funding in future budget requests until the number of challenged
suppliers has been significantly reduced. (Pages 19-20)
Senate
The Senate Armed Services Committee, in its report (S.Rept. 116-236 of June 24, 2020) on H.R.
6395, recommended the funding levels shown in the HASC column of Table 3. The
recommended increase of $175.0 million for advance procurement (AP) funding is for
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“Submarine supplier stability.” (Page 458) Regarding this recommended increase, S.Rept. 116-
236 states:
Submarine supplier stability
The budget request included $1.1 billion in line number 2 of Shipbuilding and Conversion,
Navy (SCN), for Columbia-class submarine advance procurement.
The committee believes that expanding the capabilities of the second- and third-tier
contractors in the submarine industrial base should lead to greater industrial base stability,
cost savings, and improved efficiency as production increases to meet the Columbia-class
construction schedule.
Therefore, the committee recommends an increase of $175.0 million in line number 2 for
Columbia-class submarine advance procurement.
The committee directs the Secretary of the Navy to notify the congressional defense
committees, in writing, within 30 days of obligating funds provided for submarine supplier
stability. The notification shall include: obligation date, contractor name or names,
location, description of the shortfall to be addressed, actions to be undertaken, desired end
state, usable end items to be procured, period of performance, dollar amount, projected
associated savings, including business case analysis, if applicable, contract name, and
contract number. (Pages 29-30)
Section 121 of S. 4049 as reported by the committee states:
SEC. 121. CONTRACT AUTHORITY FOR COLUMBIA-CLASS SUBMARINE
PROGRAM.
(a) CONTRACT AUTHORITY.—The Secretary of the Navy may enter into a contract,
beginning with fiscal year 2021, for the procurement of up to two Columbia-class
submarines.
(b) INCREMENTAL FUNDING.—With respect to a contract entered into under
subsection (a), the Secretary of the Navy may use incremental funding to make payments
under the contract.
(c) LIABILITY.—Any contract entered into under subsection (a) shall provide that—
(1) any obligation of the United States to make a payment under the contract is subject to
the availability of appropriations for that purpose; and
(2) total liability of the Federal Government for termination of any contract entered into
shall be limited to the total amount of funding obligated to the contract at time of
termination.
Section 1025 of S. 4049 as reported by the committee states (emphasis added):
SEC. 1025. SENSE OF CONGRESS ON ACTIONS NECESSARY TO ACHIEVE A 355-
SHIP NAVY.
It is the sense of Congress that to achieve the national policy of the United States to have
available, as soon as practicable, not fewer than 355 battle force ships—
(1) the Navy must be adequately resourced to increase the size of the Navy in accordance
with the national policy, which includes the associated ships, aircraft, personnel,
sustainment, and munitions;
(2) across fiscal years 2021 through 2025, the Navy should start construction on not
fewer than

(A) 12 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers;
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(B) 10 Virginia-class submarines;
(C) 2 Columbia-class submarines;
(D) 3 San Antonio-class amphibious ships;
(E) 1 LHA-class amphibious ship;
(F) 6 John Lewis-class fleet oilers; and
(G) 5 guided missile frigates;
(3) new guided missile frigate construction should increase to a rate of between two and
four ships per year once design maturity and construction readiness permit;
(4) the Columbia-class submarine program should be funded with additions to the
Navy budget significantly above the historical average, given the critical single
national mission that these vessels will perform and the high priority of the
shipbuilding budget for implementing the National Defense Strategy
;
(5) stable shipbuilding rates of construction should be maintained for each vessel class,
utilizing multi-year or block buy contract authorities when appropriate, until a deliberate
transition plan is identified; and
(6) prototyping of potential new shipboard sub systems should be accelerated to build
knowledge systematically, and, to the maximum extent practicable, shipbuilding
prototyping should occur at the subsystem-level in advance of ship design.
S.Rept. 116-232 also states:
Submarine Construction Workforce Training Pipeline
The budget request included $9.2 million in Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation
(RDT&E), Defense-wide, for PE 67210D8Z Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment
Support.
The committee notes that, over the next decade, the submarine shipbuilding industry must
hire at least 18,000 new skilled workers to support the production of the Columbia-class
ballistic missile submarine and the continued construction of the Virginia-class submarine.
The submarine industry has worked closely with State and local governments, community
colleges, high schools, and community-based non-profits for the past several years to
establish new training pipelines to support these increased hiring needs.
Thus far, such pipeline training programs have placed nearly 2,500 people in submarine
industry jobs. The committee notes that additional funding will increase the throughput of
these pipelines and expand them into additional States to more adequately respond to the
hiring demand.
Therefore, the committee recommends an increase of $20.0 million in RDT&E, Defense-
wide, for PE 67210D8Z for increasing the submarine construction workforce training
pipeline. (Page 124)
FY21 DOD Appropriations Act (H.R. 7617)
House
The House Appropriations Committee, in its report (H.Rept. 116-453 of July 16, 2020) on H.R.
7617, recommended the funding levels shown in the HAC column of Table 3. The recommended
reduction of $10.514 million for line 52 is for “CMC [Common Missile Compartment] design
and prototype historically overbudgeted.” (Page 267) The recommended reduction of $29.296
million for procurement is for “CANES [Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services]
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early to need” ($4.484 million), “Electronic warfare early to need” ($11.992 million), and
“Photonics early to need” ($12.820 million). (Page 184)
In H.R. 7617 as reported by the committee, the paragraph that makes appropriations for the
Shipbuilding and Conversion, Navy (SCN) appropriation account includes this provision:
Provided further, That funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act for
Columbia Class Submarine (AP) may be available for the purposes authorized by
subsections (f), (g), (h) or (i) of section 2218a of title 10, United States Code, only in
accordance with the provisions of the applicable subsection.


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Appendix A. Summary of Past U.S. SSBN Designs
This appendix provides background information on the four SSBN classes that the United States
has operated since 1959. The four classes are summarized in Table A-1. As shown in the table,
the size of U.S. SSBNs has grown over time, reflecting in part a growth in the size and number of
SLBMs carried on each boat. The Ohio class carries an SLBM (the D-5) that is much larger than
the SLBMs carried by earlier U.S. SSBNs, and it carries 24 SLBMs, compared to the 16 on
earlier U.S. SSBNs.63 In part for these reasons, the Ohio-class design, with a submerged
displacement of 18,750 tons, is more than twice the size of earlier U.S. SSBNs.
Table A-1. U.S. SSBN Classes
George
Lafayette/Benjamin
Washington
Ethan Allen
Franklin (SSBN-
Ohio (SSBN-726)

(SSBN-598) class
(SSBN-608) class
616/640) class
class
Number in class
5
5
31
18/14
Fiscal years
FY1958-FY1959
FY1959 and FY1961
FY1961-FY1964
FY1974/FY1977 -
procured
FY1991
Years in
1959-1985
1961-1992
1963-2002
1981/1984-present
commission
Length
381.7 feet
410.5 feet
425 feet
560 feet
Beam
33 feet
33 feet
33 feet
42 feet
Submerged
6,700 tons
7,900 tons
8,250 tons
18,750 tons
displacement
Number of SLBM
16
16
16
24 (to be reduced
launch tubes
to 20 by 2018)
Final type(s) of
Polaris A-3
Polaris A-3
Poseidon C-3/
Trident II D-5
SLBM carried
Trident I C-4
Diameter of those
54 inches
54 inches
74 inches
83 inches
SLBMs
Length of those
32.3 feet
32.3 feet
34 feet
44 feet
SLBMs
Weight of each
36,000 pounds
36,000 pounds
65,000/73,000 pounds
~130,000 pounds
SLBM (pounds)
Range of SLBMs
~2,500 nm
~2,500 nm
~2,500 nm/~4,000 nm
~4,000 nm
Sources: Prepared by CRS based on data in Norman Polmar, The Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet, Annapolis,
Naval Institute Press, various editions, and (for SSBN decommissioning dates) U.S. Naval Vessel Register.
Notes: Beam is the maximum width of a ship. For the submarines here, which have cylindrical hul s, beam is the
diameter of the hul .
The range of an SLBM can vary, depending on the number and weight of nuclear warheads it carries; actual
ranges can be lesser or greater than those shown.
The George Washington-class boats were procured as modifications of SSNs that were already under
construction. Three of the boats were converted into SSNs toward the ends of their lives and were

63 The larger size of the Ohio-class design also reflects a growth in size over time in U.S. submarine designs due to
other reasons, such as providing increased interior volume for measures to quiet the submarine acoustically, so as to
make it harder to detect.
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decommissioned in 1983-1985. The two boats that remained SSBNs throughout their lives were
decommissioned in 1981.
All five Ethan Allen-class boats were converted into SSNs toward the ends of their lives. The boats were
decommissioned in 1983 (two boats), 1985, 1991, and 1992.
Two of the Lafayette/Benjamin Franklin-class boats were converted into SSNs toward the ends of their lives and
were decommissioned in 1999 and 2002. The 29 that remained SSBNs throughout their lives were
decommissioned in 1986-1995. For 19 of the boats, the Poseidon C-3 was the final type of SLBM carried; for the
other 12, the Trident I C-4 SLBM was the final type of SLBM carried.
A total of 18 Ohio-class SSBNs were built. The first four, which entered service in 1981-1984, were converted
into SSGNs in 2002-2008. The remaining 14 boats entered service in 1984-1997. Although Ohio-class SSBNs are
designed to each carry 24 SLBMs, by 2018, four SLBM launch tubes on each boat are to be deactivated, and the
number of SLBMs that can be carried by each boat consequently is to be reduced to 20, so that the number of
operational launchers and warheads in the U.S. force wil comply with strategic nuclear arms control limits.
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Appendix B. U.S.-UK Cooperation on SLBMs and
the New UK SSBN
This appendix provides background information on U.S.-UK cooperation on SLBMs and the
UK’s next-generation SSBN, previously called the Successor-class SSBN and now called the
Dreadnought-class SSBN.
The UK’s four Vanguard-class SSBNs, which entered service in 1993-1999, each carry 16 Trident
II D-5 SLBMs. Previous classes of UK SSBNs similarly carried earlier-generation U.S. SLBMs.64
The UK’s use of U.S.-made SLBMs on its SSBNs is one element of a long-standing close
cooperation between the two countries on nuclear-related issues that is carried out under the 1958
Agreement for Cooperation on the Uses of Atomic Energy for Mutual Defense Purposes (also
known as the Mutual Defense Agreement). Within the framework established by the 1958
agreement, cooperation on SLBMs in particular is carried out under the 1963 Polaris Sales
Agreement and a 1982 Exchange of Letters between the two governments.65 The Navy testified in

64 Although the SLBMs on UK SSBNs are U.S.-made, the nuclear warheads on the missiles are of UK design and
manufacture.
65 A March 18, 2010, report by the UK Parliament’s House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee stated the
following:
During the Cold War, the UK’s nuclear co-operation with the United States was considered to be at
the heart of the [UK-U.S.] ‘special relationship’. This included the 1958 Mutual Defence
Agreement, the 1963 Polaris Sales Agreement (PSA) (subsequently amended for Trident), and the
UK’s use of the US nuclear test site in Nevada from 1962 to 1992. The co-operation also
encompassed agreements for the United States to use bases in Britain, with the right to store
nuclear weapons, and agreements for two bases in Yorkshire (Fylingdales and Menwith Hill) to be
upgraded to support US missile defence plans.
In 1958, the UK and US signed the Mutual Defence Agreement (MDA). Although some of the
appendices, amendments and Memoranda of Understanding remain classified, it is known that the
agreement provides for extensive co-operation on nuclear warhead and reactor technologies, in
particular the exchange of classified information concerning nuclear weapons to improve design,
development and fabrication capability. The agreement also provides for the transfer of nuclear
warhead-related materials. The agreement was renewed in 2004 for another ten years.
The other major UK-US agreement in this field is the 1963 Polaris Sales Agreement (PSA) which
allows the UK to acquire, support and operate the US Trident missile system. Originally signed to
allow the UK to acquire the Polaris Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) system in the
1960s, it was amended in 1980 to facilitate purchase of the Trident I (C4) missile and again in 1982
to authorise purchase of the more advanced Trident II (D5) in place of the C4. In return, the UK
agreed to formally assign its nuclear forces to the defence of NATO, except in an extreme national
emergency, under the terms of the 1962 Nassau Agreement reached between President John F.
Kennedy and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan to facilitate negotiation of the PSA.
Current nuclear co-operation takes the form of leasing arrangements of around 60 Trident II D5
missiles from the US for the UK’s independent deterrent, and long-standing collaboration on the
design of the W76 nuclear warhead carried on UK missiles. In 2006 it was revealed that the US and
the UK had been working jointly on a new ‘Reliable Replacement Warhead’ (RRW) that would
modernise existing W76-style designs. In 2009 it emerged that simulation testing at Aldermaston
on dual axis hydrodynamics experiments had provided the US with scientific data it did not
otherwise possess on this RRW programme.
The level of co-operation between the two countries on highly sensitive military technology is,
according to the written submission from Ian Kearns, “well above the norm, even for a close
alliance relationship”. He quoted Admiral William Crowe, the former US Ambassador to London,
who likened the UK-US nuclear relationship to that of an iceberg, “with a small tip of it sticking
out, but beneath the water there is quite a bit of everyday business that goes on between our two
governments in a fashion that’s unprecedented in the world.” Dr Kearns also commented that the
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March 2010 that “the United States and the United Kingdom have maintained a shared
commitment to nuclear deterrence through the Polaris Sales Agreement since April 1963. The
U.S. will continue to maintain its strong strategic relationship with the UK for our respective
follow-on platforms, based upon the Polaris Sales Agreement.”66
The first Vanguard-class SSBN was originally projected to reach the end of its service life in
2024, but an October 2010 UK defense and security review report states that the lives of the
Vanguard class ships will now be extended by a few years, so that the four boats will remain in
service into the late 2020s and early 2030s.67
The UK plans to replace the four Vanguard-class boats with three or four next-generation
Dreadnought-class boats are to be equipped with 12 missile launch tubes, but current UK plans
call for each boat to carry eight D-5 SLBMs, with the other four tubes not being used for SLBMs.
The report states that “‘Main Gate’—the decision to start building the submarines—is required
around 2016.”68 The first new boat is to be delivered by 2028, or about four years later than
previously planned.69
The United States is assisting the UK with certain aspects of the Dreadnought SSBN program. In
addition to the modular Common Missile Compartment (CMC), the United States is assisting the
UK with the new PWR-3 reactor plant70 to be used by the Dreadnought SSBN. A December 2011
press report states that “there has been strong [UK] collaboration with the US [on the
Dreadnought program], particularly with regard to the CMC, the PWR, and other propulsion
technology,” and that the design concept selected for the Dreadnought class employs “a new
propulsion plant based on a US design, but using next-generation UK reactor technology
(PWR-3) and modern secondary propulsion systems.”71 The U.S. Navy states that
Naval Reactors, a joint Department of Energy/Department of Navy organization
responsible for all aspects of naval nuclear propulsion, has an ongoing technical exchange
with the UK Ministry of Defence under the US/UK 1958 Mutual Defence Agreement. The

personal bonds between the US/UK scientific and technical establishments were deeply rooted.
(House of Commons, Foreign Affairs Committee, Sixth Report Global Security: UK-US Relations,
March 18, 2010, paragraphs 131-135; http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/
cmselect/cmfaff/114/11402.htm; paragraphs 131-135 are included in the section of the report
available at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmfaff/114/11406.htm.)
See also “U.K. Stays Silent on Nuclear-Arms Pact Extension with United States,” Global Security Newswire, July 30,
2014.
66 Statement of Rear Admiral Stephen Johnson, USN, Director, Strategic Systems Programs, Before the Subcommittee
on Strategic Forces of the Senate Armed Services Committee [on] FY2011 Strategic Systems, March 17, 2010, p. 6.
67 Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review, Presented to Parliament by
the Prime Minister by Command of Her Majesty, October 2010, p. 39.
68 Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review, Presented to Parliament by
the Prime Minister by Command of Her Majesty, October 2010, pp. 5, 38-39. For more on the UK’s Dreadnought
SSBN program as it existed prior to the October 2010 UK defense and security review report, see Richard Scott,
“Deterrence At A Discount?” Jane’s Defence Weekly, December 23, 2009: 26-31.
69 Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review, Presented to Parliament by
the Prime Minister by Command of Her Majesty, October 2010, p. 39.
70 PWR3 means pressurized water reactor, design number 3. U.S. and UK nuclear-powered submarines employ
pressurized water reactors. Earlier UK nuclear-powered submarines are powered by reactor designs that the UK
designated PWR-2 and PWR-1. For an article discussing the PWR3 plant, see Richard Scott, “Critical Mass: Re-
Energising the UK’s Naval Nuclear Programme,” Jane’s International Defence Review, July 2014: 42-45, 47.
71 Sam LaGrone and Richard Scott, “Strategic Assets: Deterrent Plans Confront Cost Challenges,” Jane’s Navy
International
, December 2011: 17 and 18.
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US/UK 1958 Mutual Defence Agreement is a Government to Government Atomic Energy
Act agreement that allows the exchange of naval nuclear propulsion technology between
the US and UK.
Under this agreement, Naval Reactors is providing the UK Ministry of Defence with US
naval nuclear propulsion technology to facilitate development of the naval nuclear
propulsion plant for the UK’s next generation SUCCESSOR ballistic missile submarine.
The technology exchange is managed and led by the US and UK Governments, with
participation from Naval Reactors prime contractors, private nuclear capable shipbuilders,
and several suppliers. A UK based office comprised of about 40 US personnel provide full-
time engineering support for the exchange, with additional support from key US suppliers
and other US based program personnel as needed.
The relationship between the US and UK under the 1958 mutual defence agreement is an
ongoing relationship and the level of support varies depending on the nature of the support
being provided. Naval Reactors work supporting the SUCCESSOR submarine is
reimbursed by the UK Ministry of Defence.72
U.S. assistance to the UK on naval nuclear propulsion technology first occurred many years ago:
To help jumpstart the UK’s nuclear-powered submarine program, the United States transferred to
the UK a complete nuclear propulsion plant (plus technical data, spares, and training) of the kind
installed on the U.S. Navy’s six Skipjack (SSN-585) class nuclear-powered attack submarines
(SSNs), which entered service between 1959 and 1961. The plant was installed on the UK Navy’s
first nuclear-powered ship, the attack submarine Dreadnought, which entered service in 1963.
The December 2011 press report states that “the UK is also looking at other areas of cooperation
between Dreadnought and the Ohio Replacement Programme. For example, a collaboration
agreement has been signed off regarding the platform integration of sonar arrays with the
respective combat systems.”73
A June 24, 2016, press report states the following:
The [U.S. Navy] admiral responsible for the nuclear weapons component of ballistic
missile submarines today praised the “truly unique” relationship with the British naval
officers who have similar responsibilities, and said that historic cooperation would not be
affected by Thursday’s vote to have the United Kingdom leave the European Union.
Vice Adm. Terry Benedict, director of the Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs, said that
based on a telephone exchange Thursday morning with his Royal Navy counterpart, “I
have no concern.” The so-called Brexit vote—for British exit—“was a decision based on
its relationship with Europe, not with us. I see yesterday’s vote having no effect.”74

72 Source: Email to CRS from Navy Office of Legislative Affairs, June 25, 2012. See also Jon Rosamond, “Next
Generation U.K. Boomers Benefit from U.S. Relationship,” USNI News (http://news.usni.org), December 17, 2014.
73 Sam LaGrone and Richard Scott, “Strategic Assets: Deterrent Plans Confront Cost Challenges,” Jane’s Navy
International
, December 2011: 19. See also Jake Wallis Simons, “Brits Keep Mum on US Involvement in Trident
Nuclear Program,” Politico, April 30, 2015.
74 Otto Kreisher, “Benedict: UK Exit From European Union Won’t Hinder Nuclear Sub Collaboration,” USNI News,
June 24, 2016.
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Appendix C. Columbia-Class Program Origin and
Milestones
This appendix provides background information on the Columbia-class program’s origin and
milestones.
Program Origin and Early Milestones
Although the eventual need to replace the Ohio-class SSBNs has been known for many years, the
Columbia-class program can be traced more specifically to an exchange of letters in December
2006 between President George W. Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair concerning the UK’s
desire to participate in a program to extend the service life of the Trident II D-5 SLBM into the
2040s, and to have its next-generation SSBNs carry D-5s. Following this exchange of letters, and
with an awareness of the projected retirement dates of the Ohio-class SSBNs and the time that
would likely be needed to develop and field a replacement for them, DOD in 2007 began studies
on a next-generation sea-based strategic deterrent (SBSD).75 The studies used the term sea-based
strategic deterrent (SBSD) to signal the possibility that the new system would not necessarily be a
submarine.
An Initial Capabilities Document (ICD) for a new SBSD was developed in early 200876 and
approved by DOD’s Joint Requirements Oversight Committee (JROC) on June 20, 2008.77 In
July 2008, DOD issued a Concept Decision providing guidance for an analysis of alternatives
(AOA) for the program; an acquisition decision memorandum from John Young, DOD’s
acquisition executive, stated the new system would, barring some discovery, be a submarine.78
The Navy established an Columbia-class program office at about this same time.79
The AOA reportedly began in the summer or fall of 2008.80 The AOA was completed, with final
brief to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), on May 20, 2009. The final AOA report
was completed in September 2009. An AOA Sufficiency Review Letter was signed by OSD’s
Director, Cost Assessment & Program Evaluation (CAPE) on December 8, 2009.81 The AOA
concluded that a new-design SSBN was the best option for replacing the Ohio-class SSBNs. (For

75 In February 2007, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) commissioned a task force to support
an anticipated Underwater Launched Missile Study (ULMS). On June 8, 2007, the Secretary of the Navy initiated the
ULMS. Six days later, the commander of STRATCOM directed that a Sea Based Strategic Deterrent (SBSD)
capability-based assessment (CBA) be performed. In July 2007, the task force established by the commander of
STRATCOM provided its recommendations regarding capabilities and characteristics for a new SBSD. (Source: Navy
list of key events relating to the ULMS and SBSD provided to CRS and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on
July 7, 2008.)
76 On February 14, 2008, the SBSD ICD was approved for joint staffing by the Navy’s Resources and Requirements
Review Board (R3B). On April 29, 2008, the SBSD was approved by DOD’s Functional Capabilities Board (FCB) to
proceed to DOD’s Joint Capabilities Board (JCB). (Source: Navy list of key events relating to the ULMS and SBSD
provided to CRS and CBO on July 7, 2008.)
77 Navy briefing to CRS and CBO on the SBSD program, July 6, 2009.
78 Navy briefing to CRS and CBO on the SBSD program, July 6, 2009.
79 An August 2008 press report states that the program office, called PMS-397, “was established within the last two
months.” (Dan Taylor, “Navy Stands Up Program Office To Manage Next-Generation SSBN,” Inside the Navy, August
17, 2008.
80 “Going Ballistic,” Defense Daily, September 22, 2008, p. 1.
81 Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Budget Estimates, Navy, Justification Book Volume 2, Research,
Development, Test & Evaluation, Navy Budget Activity 4
, entry for PE0603561N, Project 3220 (PDF page 345 of 888).
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a June 26, 2013, Navy blog post discussing options that were examined for replacing the Ohio-
class SSBNs, see Appendix D.)
The program’s Milestone A review meeting was held on December 9, 2010. On February 3, 2011,
the Navy provided the following statement to CRS concerning the outcome of the December 9
meeting:
The OHIO Replacement Program achieved Milestone A and has been approved to enter
the Technology Development Phase of the Dept. of Defense Life Cycle Management
System as of Jan. 10, 2011.
This milestone comes following the endorsement of the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB),
chaired by Dr. Carter (USD for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics) who has signed
the program’s Milestone A Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM).
The DAB endorsed replacing the current 14 Ohio-class Ballistic Missile Submarines
(SSBNs) as they reach the end of their service life with 12 Ohio Replacement Submarines,
each comprising 16, 87-inch diameter missile tubes utilizing TRIDENT II D5 Life
Extended missiles (initial loadout). The decision came after the program was presented to
the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) on Dec. 9, 2010.
The ADM validates the program’s Technology Development Strategy and allows entry into the
Technology Development Phase during which warfighting requirements will be refined to meet
operational and affordability goals. Design, prototyping, and technology development efforts will
continue to ensure sufficient technological maturity for lead ship procurement in 2019.82
January 2017 Milestone B Approval
On January 4, 2017, DOD gave Milestone B approval to the Columbia-class program. Milestone
B approval, which permits a program to enter the engineering and manufacturing development
(EMD) phase, is generally considered a major milestone for a defense acquisition program,
permitting the program to transition, in effect, from a research and development effort into a
procurement program of record. A January 6, 2017, Navy notification to Congress on the
Milestone B approval for the Columbia-class program states the following:
On 4 November 2016, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and
Logistics Frank Kendall chaired the Milestone B Defense Acquisition Board, and on 4
January, 2017 signed the acquisition decision memorandum approving COLUMBIA Class
program’s Milestone B and designating the program as an Acquisition Category ID major
defense acquisition program. Milestone B also establishes the Acquisition Program
Baseline against which the program’s performance will be assessed. Additionally, this
decision formally authorizes entry into the Engineering and Manufacturing Development
Phase of an acquisition program, permitting the transition from preliminary design to detail
design, using Shipbuilding and Conversion, Navy (SCN) funds. Cost estimates for this
program have been rebaselined from CY2010 dollars to CY2017 dollars in accordance with
DoDI 5000.02, Rev p, dated 7 January 2015.
The MS B Navy Cost Estimate for Average Follow Ship End Cost (hulls 2-12) in 2010$
using specific shipbuilding indices is $5.0 billion, a $600 million reduction from the MS A
estimate, which nearly achieves the affordability target of $4.9 billion set at MS A. To
continue cost control, the Navy will focus on:
• Stable operational and technical requirements
• High design maturity at construction start

82 Source: Email from Navy Office of Legislative Affairs to CRS, February 3, 2011.
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• Detailed plans to ensure manufacturing readiness including robust prototyping efforts and
synergies with other nuclear shipbuilding programs
• Aggressive cost reduction actions
Affordability caps have been assigned that are consistent with current cost estimates and
reasonable margins for cost growth. Relative to Milestone A, these estimates have been
updated to adjust Base Year from 2010 to 2017, a standard practice to match Base Year
with the year of Milestone B approval. The MS A unit cost affordability target ($4.9 billion
in CY2010$ using Navy indices) used a unique metric, “Average Follow-on Ship End
Cost,” which accounted for hulls 2-12. From Milestone B forward, the affordability cap for
the unit cost will be measured by using the Average Procurement Unit Cost (APUC), which
includes all 12 hulls. The Affordability Cap of $8.0 billion in CY2017$ is based upon the
approved APUC estimate of $7.3 billion plus 10%....
The Navy and industry are currently negotiating the detail design and construction
(DD&C) contract, which is expected to award in early 2017. With negotiations continuing
on the DD&C contract, the Navy has ensured the COLUMBIA Program design effort will
continue without interruption. The Navy issued a contract modification to allow execution
of SCN for detail design on the existing R&D contract. With this modification in place,
detail design efforts that had initially planned to transition to the DD&C contract, will
continue on the current R&D contract to ensure continued design progress. With the
Milestone B approval and the appropriation of $773M in FY17 SCN under the second
Continuing Resolution, funding is now available to execute detail design. In accordance
with 10 U.S.C. §2218a and the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act, the Navy
deposited the FY17 SCN into the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund (NSBDF). The first
installment of funding will be executed on the existing R&D contract, which allows
transition into detail design and continued design progress until the award of the DD&C
contract.83


83 Columbia Class MS [Milestone] B, Congressional Notification, January 6, 2017, pp. 1-2. See also Megan Eckstein,
“Columbia-class Submarine Program Passess Milestone B Decision, Can Begin Detail Design,” USNI News, January 4,
2017.
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Appendix D. Design of Columbia-Class Boats
This appendix provides additional background information on the design for the Columbia-class
boats.
Some Key Design Features
The Columbia-class design will reflect the following:
 The Columbia class is being designed for a 42-year expected service life.84
 Unlike the Ohio-class design, which requires a midlife nuclear refueling,85 the
Columbia class is to be equipped with a life-of-the-ship nuclear fuel core (a
nuclear fuel core that is sufficient to power the ship for its entire expected service
life).86 Although the Columbia class will not need a midlife nuclear refueling, it
will still need a midlife nonrefueling overhaul (i.e., an overhaul that does not
include a nuclear refueling) to operate over its full 42-year life.
 The Columbia class is to be equipped with an electric-drive propulsion train, as
opposed to the mechanical-drive propulsion train used on other Navy
submarines. The electric-drive system is expected to be quieter (i.e., stealthier)
than a mechanical-drive system.87
 The Columbia class is to have SLBM launch tubes that are the same size as those
on the Ohio class (i.e., tubes with a diameter of 87 inches and a length sufficient
to accommodate a D-5 SLBM).
 The Columbia class will have a beam (i.e., diameter)88 of 43 feet, compared to 42
feet on the Ohio-class design,89 and a length of 560 feet, the same as that of the
Ohio-class design.90

84 Rear Admiral David Johnson, briefing to Naval Submarine League Annual Symposium [on] Expanding Undersea
Dominance, October 23, 2014, briefing slide 19. See also William Baker et al., “Design for Sustainment: The Ohio
Replacement Submarine,” Naval Engineers Journal, September 2015: 89-96.
85 As mentioned earlier (see “Current Ohio-Class SSBNs”), the Ohio-class boats receive a midlife nuclear refueling
overhaul, called an Engineered Refueling Overhaul (ERO), which includes both a nuclear refueling and overhaul work
on the ship that is not related to the nuclear refueling.
86 U.S. Navy, Report to Congress on Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for FY 2011,
February 2010, p. 5.
87 Source: Rear Admiral David Johnson, briefing to Naval Submarine League Annual Symposium [on] Expanding
Undersea Dominance, October 23, 2014, briefing slide 19. See also the spoken testimony of Admiral Kirkland Donald,
Deputy Administrator for Naval Reactors, and Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion, National Nuclear Security
Administration, at a March 30, 2011, hearing before the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services
Committee, as shown in the transcript of the hearing, and Dave Bishop, “What Will Follow the Ohio Class?” U.S.
Naval Institute Proceedings
, June 2012: 31; and Sam LaGrone and Richard Scott, “Strategic Assets: Deterrent Plans
Confront Cost Challenges,” Jane’s Navy International, December 2011: 16. For more on electric drive propulsion, see
CRS Report RL30622, Electric-Drive Propulsion for U.S. Navy Ships: Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald
O'Rourke.
88 Beam is the maximum width of a ship. For Navy submarines, which have cylindrical hulls, beam is the diameter of
the hull.
89 Dave Bishop, “What Will Follow the Ohio Class?” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, June 2012: 31. (Bishop was
program manager for the Columbia-class program.) See also Sam LaGrone and Richard Scott, “Strategic Assets:
Deterrent Plans Confront Cost Challenges,” Jane’s Navy International, December 2011: 15 and 16.
90 Sydney J. Freedberg, “Navy Seeks Sub Replacement Savings: From NASA Rocket Boosters To Reused Access
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 Instead of 24 SLBM launch tubes, as on the Ohio-class design, the Columbia
class is to have 16 SLBM launch tubes.
 As noted earlier, although the Columbia-class design has fewer SLBM tubes than
the Ohio-class design, it is larger than the Ohio-class design in terms of
submerged displacement. The Columbia-class design has a reported submerged
displacement of 20,815 tons (as of August 2014), compared to 18,750 tons for the
Ohio-class design.91 The Columbia-class design, like the Ohio-class design
before it, will be the largest submarine ever built by the United States.
 The Navy states that “owing to the unique demands of strategic relevance,
[Columbia-class boats] must be fitted with the most up-to-date capabilities and
stealth to ensure they are survivable throughout their full 40-year life span.”92
June 2013 Navy Blog Post Regarding Ohio Replacement Options
A June 26, 2013, blog post by Rear Admiral Richard Breckenridge, the Navy’s Director for
Undersea Warfare (N97), discussing options that were examined for replacing the Ohio-class
SSBNs, stated the following:
Over the last five years, the Navy–working with U.S. Strategic Command, the Joint Staff
and the Office of the Secretary of Defense–has formally examined various options to
replace the Ohio ballistic missile submarines as they retire beginning in 2027. This analysis
included a variety of replacement platform options, including designs based on the highly
successful Virginia-class attack submarine program and the current Ohio-class ballistic
missile submarine. In the end, the Navy elected to pursue a new design that leverages the
lessons from the Ohio, the Virginia advances in shipbuilding and improvements in cost-
efficiency.
Recently, a variety of writers have speculated that the required survivable deterrence could
be achieved more cost effectively with the Virginia-based option or by restarting the Ohio-
class SSBN production line. Both of these ideas make sense at face value–which is why
they were included among the alternatives assessed–but the devil is in the details. When
we examined the particulars, each of these options came up short in both military
effectiveness and cost efficiency.
Virginia-based SSBN design with a Trident II D5 missile. An SSBN design based on a
Virginia-class attack submarine with a large-diameter missile compartment was rejected
due to a wide range of shortfalls. It would:

Doors,” Breaking Defense (http://breakingdefense.com), April 7, 2014.
91 Navy information paper on Columbia-class program dated August 11, 2014, provided to CBO and CRS on August
11, 2014.
92 U.S. Navy, Report to Congress on Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for FY 2011,
February 2010, p. 24. See also Mike McCarthy, “Navy Striving To Reduce Detectability Of Next Boomers,” Defense
Daily
, February 6, 2015: 1. In an article published in June 2012, the program manager for the Columbia-class program
stated that “the current configuration of the Ohio replacement is an SSBN with 16 87-inch-diameter missile tubes, a 43-
foot-diamater hull, electric-drive propulsion, [an] X-stern, accommodations for 155 personnel, and a common
submarine radio room tailored to the SSBN mission.” (Dave Bishop, “What Will Follow the Ohio Class?” U.S. Naval
Institute Proceedings
, June 2012: 31. See also Sam LaGrone and Richard Scott, “Strategic Assets: Deterrent Plans
Confront Cost Challenges,” Jane’s Navy International, December 2011: 15 and 16. The X-stern is also shown in Rear
Admiral David Johnson, briefing to Naval Submarine League Annual Symposium [on] Expanding Undersea
Dominance, October 23, 2014, briefing slide 19.) The term X-stern means that the steering and diving fins at the stern
of the ship are, when viewed from the rear, in the diagonal pattern of the letter X, rather than the vertical-and horizontal
pattern of a plus sign (which is referred to as a cruciform stern). The common submarine radio room is a standardized
(i.e., common) suite of submarine radio room equipment that is being installed on other U.S. Navy submarines.
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• Not meet survivability (stealth) requirements due to poor hull streamlining and lack of a
drive train able to quietly propel a much larger ship
• Not meet at-sea availability requirements due to longer refit times (since equipment is
packed more tightly within the hull, it requires more time to replace, repair and retest)
• Not meet availability requirements due to a longer mid-life overhaul (refueling needed)
• Require a larger number of submarines to meet the same operational requirement
• Reduce the deterrent value needed to protect the country (fewer missiles, warheads at-
sea)
• Be more expensive than other alternatives due to extensive redesign of Virginia systems
to work with the large missile compartment (for example, a taller sail, larger control
surfaces and more robust support systems)
We would be spending more money (on more ships) to deliver less deterrence (reduced at-
sea warhead presence) with less survivability (platforms that are less stealthy).
Virginia-based SSBN design with a smaller missile. Some have encouraged the
development of a new, smaller missile to go with a Virginia-based SSBN. This would carry
forward many of the shortfalls of a Virginia-based SSBN we just discussed, and add to it
a long list of new issues. Developing a new nuclear missile from scratch with an industrial
base that last produced a new design more than 20 years ago would be challenging, costly
and require extensive testing. We deliberately decided to extend the life of the current
missile to decouple and de-risk the complex (and costly) missile development program
from the new replacement submarine program. Additionally, a smaller missile means a
shorter employment range requiring longer SSBN patrol transits. This would compromise
survivability, require more submarines at sea and ultimately weaken our deterrence
effectiveness. With significant cost, technical and schedule risks, there is little about this
option that is attractive.
Ohio-based SSBN design. Some have argued that we should re-open the Ohio production
line and resume building the Ohio design SSBNs. This simply cannot be done because
there is no Ohio production line. It has long since been re-tooled and modernized to build
state-of-the-art Virginia-class SSNs using computerized designs and modular, automated
construction techniques. Is it desirable to redesign the Ohio so that a ship with its legacy
performance could be built using the new production facilities? No, since an Ohio-based
SSBN would:
• Not provide the required quieting due to Ohio design constraints and use of a propeller
instead of a propulsor (which is the standard for virtually all new submarines)
• Require 14 instead of 12 SSBNs by reverting to Ohio class operational availability
standards (incidentally creating other issues with the New START treaty limits)
• Suffer from reduced reliability and costs associated with the obsolescence of legacy Ohio
system components
Once again, the end result would necessitate procuring more submarines (14) to provide
the required at-sea presence and each of them would be less stealthy and less survivable
against foreseeable 21st century threats.
The Right Answer: A new design SSBN that improves on Ohio: What has emerged
from the Navy’s exhaustive analysis is an Ohio replacement submarine that starts with the
foundation of the proven performance of the Ohio SSBN, its Trident II D5 strategic
weapons system and its operating cycle. To this it adds:
• Enhanced stealth as necessary to pace emerging threats expected over its service life
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• Systems commonality with Virginia (pumps, valves, sonars, etc.) wherever possible,
enabling cost savings in design, procurement, maintenance and logistics
• Modular construction and use of COTS equipment consistent with those used in today’s
submarines to reduce the cost of fabrication, maintenance and modernization. Total
ownership cost reduction (for example, investing in a life-of-the-ship reactor core enables
providing the same at-sea presence with fewer platforms).
Although the Ohio replacement is a “new design,” it is in effect an SSBN that takes the
best lessons from 50 years of undersea deterrence, from the Ohio, from the Virginia, from
advances in shipbuilding efficiency and maintenance, and from the stern realities of
needing to provide survivable nuclear deterrence. The result is a low-risk, cost-effective
platform capable of smoothly transitioning from the Ohio and delivering effective 21st
century undersea strategic deterrence.93
16 vs. 20 SLBM Tubes
Overview
The Navy’s decision to design Columbia-class boats with 16 SLBM tubes rather than 20 was one
of several decisions the Navy made to reduce the estimated average procurement cost of boats 2
through 12 in the program toward a Navy target cost of $4.9 billion in FY2010 dollars.94 Some
observers were concerned that designing the Columbia class with 16 tubes rather than 20 would
create a risk that U.S. strategic nuclear forces might not have enough capability in the 2030s and
beyond to fully perform their deterrent role. These observers noted that to comply with the New
Start Treaty limiting strategic nuclear weapons, DOD plans to operate in coming years a force of
14 Trident SSBNs, each with 20 operable SLBM tubes (4 of the 24 tubes on each boat are to be
rendered inoperable), for a total of 280 tubes, whereas the Navy in the Columbia-class program is

93 “Facts We Can Agree Upon About Design of Ohio Replacement SSBN,” Navy Live, accessed July 3, 2013, at
http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2013/06/26/facts-we-can-agree-upon-about-design-of-ohio-replacement-ssbn/.
94 At a March 30, 2011, hearing before the Strategic Forces subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee,
Admiral Kirkland Donald, Deputy Administrator for Naval Reactors and Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion, National
Nuclear Security Administration, when asked for examples cost efficiencies that are being pursued in his programs,
stated the following:
The—the Ohio replacement [program] has been one that we’ve obviously been focused on here
for—for several years now. But in the name of the efficiencies, and one of the issues as we work
through the Defense Department’s acquisition process, we were the first program through that new
process that Dr. [Aston] Carter [the DOD acquisition executive] headed up.
But we were challenged to—to drive the cost of that ship down, and as far as our part was
concerned, one of the key decisions that was made that—that helped us in that regard was a
decision to go from 20 missile tubes to 16 missile tubes, because what that allowed us to do was to
down rate the—the propulsion power that was needed, so obviously, it’s a–it’s a small[er] the
reactor that you would need.
But what it also allowed us to do was to go back [to the use of existing components]. The size [of
the ship] fell into the envelope where we could go back and use components that we had already
designed for the Virginia class [attack submarines] and bring those into this design, not have to do
it over again, but several of the mechanical components, to use those over again.
And it enabled us to drive the cost of that propulsion plant down and rely on proven technology
that’s—pumps and valves and things like that don’t change like electronics do.
So we’re pretty comfortable putting that in ship that’ll be around ‘til 2080. But we were allowed to
do that.
(Source: Transcript of hearing.)
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planning a force of 12 SSBNs each with 16 tubes, for a total of 192 tubes, or about 31% less than
280. These observers also cited the uncertainties associated with projecting needs for strategic
deterrent forces out to the year 2080, when the final Columbia-class boat is scheduled to leave
service. These observers asked whether the plan to design the Columbia class with 16 tubes rather
than 20 was fully supported within all parts of DOD, including U.S. Strategic Command
(STRATCOM).
In response, Navy and other DOD officials stated that the decision to design the Columbia class
with 16 tubes rather than 20 was carefully considered within DOD, and that they believe a boat
with 16 tubes will give U.S. strategic nuclear forces enough capability to fully perform their
deterrent role in the 2030s and beyond.
Testimony in 2011
At a March 1, 2011, hearing before the House Armed Services Committee, Admiral Gary
Roughead, then-Chief of Naval Operations, stated the following:
I’m very comfortable with where we're going with SSBN-X. The decision and the
recommendation that I made with regard to the number of tubes—launch tubes are
consistent with the new START treaty. They’re consistent with the missions that I see that
ship having to perform. And even though it may be characterized as a cost cutting measure,
I believe it sizes the ship for the missions it will perform.95
At a March 2, 2011, hearing before the Strategic Forces subcommittee of the House Armed
Services Committee, the following exchange occurred:
REPRESENTATIVE TURNER:
General Kehler, thank you so much for your continued thoughts and of course your
leadership. One item that we had a discussion on was the triad, of looking to—of the Navy
and the tube reductions of 20 to 16, as contained in other hearings on the Hill today. I would
like your thoughts on the reduction of the tubes and what you see driving that, how you see
it affecting our strategic posture and any other thoughts you have on that?
AIR FORCE GENERAL C. ROBERT KEHLER, COMMANDER, U.S. STRATEGIC
COMMAND
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Well, first of all, sir, let me say that the—in my mind anyway,
the discussion of Trident and Ohio-class replacement is really a discussion in the context
of the need to modernize the entire triad. And so, first of all, I think that it’s important for
us to recognize that that is one piece, an important piece, but a piece of the decision process
that we need to go through.
Second, the issue of the number of tubes is not a simple black-and-white answer. So let me
just comment here for a minute.
First of all, the issue in my mind is the overall number of tubes we wind up with at the end,
not so much as the number of tubes per submarine.
Second, the issue is, of course, we have flexibility and options with how many warheads
per missile per tube, so that’s another consideration that enters into this mixture.
Another consideration that is important to me is the overall number of boats and the
operational flexibility that we have with the overall number of boats, given that some
number will need to be in maintenance, some number will need to be in training, et cetera.

95 Source: Transcript of hearing.
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And so those and many other factors—to include a little bit of foresight here, in looking
ahead to 20 years from now in antisubmarine warfare environment that the Navy will have
to operate in, all of those bear on the ultimate sideways shape configuration of a follow-on
to the Ohio.
At this point, Mr. Chairman, I am not overly troubled by going to 16 tubes. As I look at
this, given that we have that kind of flexibility that I just laid out; given that this is an
element of the triad and given that we have some decision space here as we go forward to
decide on the ultimate number of submarines, nothing troubles me operationally here to
the extent that I would oppose a submarine with 16 tubes.
I understand the reasons for wanting to have 20. I understand the arguments that were made
ahead of me. But as I sit here today, given the totality of the discussion, I am—as I said, I
am not overly troubled by 16. Now, I don’t know that the gavel has been pounded on the
other side of the river yet with a final decision, but at this point, I am not overly troubled
by 16.96
At an April 5, 2011, hearing before the Strategic Forces subcommittee of the House Armed
Services Committee, the following exchange occurred:
REPRESENTATIVE LARSEN:
General Benedict, we have had this discussion, not you and I, I am sorry. But the
subcommittee has had a discussion in the past with regards to the Ohio-class replacement
program.
The new START, though, when it was negotiated, assumed a reduction from 24 missile
tubes per hole to, I think, a maximum a maximum of 20.
The current configuration [for the Columbia class], as I understand it, would move from
24 to 16.
Can you discuss, for the subcommittee here, the Navy’s rationale for that? For moving
from 24 to 16 as opposed to the max of 20?
NAVY REAR ADMIRAL TERRY BENEDICT, DIRECTOR, STRATEGIC SYSTEMS
PROGRAMS (SSP):
Sir, as part—excuse me, as part of the work-up for the milestone A [review for the
Columbia class program] with Dr. Carter in OSD, SSP supported the extensive analysis at
both the OSD level as well as STRATCOM’s analysis.
Throughout that process, we provided, from the SWS [strategic weapon system] capability,
our perspective. Ultimately that was rolled up into both STRATCOM and OSD and senior
Navy leadership and in previous testimony, the secretary of the Navy, the CNO, and
General Chilton have all expressed their confidence that the mission of the future, given
their perspectives, is they see the environment today can be met with 16.
And so, as the acquisition and the SWS provider, we are prepared to support that decision
by leadership, sir.
REPRESENTATIVE LARSEN:
Yes.
And your analysis supports—did your analysis that fed into this, did you look at specific
numbers then?
REARD ADMIRAL BENEDICT:

96 Source: Transcript of hearing.
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Sir, we looked at the ability of the system, again, SSP does not look at specific targets
with...
REPRESENTATIVE LARSEN:
Right. Yes, yes, yes.
REAR ADMIRAL BENEDICT:
Our input was the capability of the missile, the number of re-entry bodies and the throw
weight that we can provide against those targets and based on that analysis, the leadership
decision was 16, sir.97
At an April 6, 2011, hearing before the Strategic Forces subcommittee of the Senate Armed
Services Committee, the following exchange occurred:
SENATOR SESSIONS:
Admiral Benedict, according to recent press reports, the Navy rejected the
recommendations of Strategic Command to design the next generation of ballistic missile
submarines with 20 missile tubes instead of opting for only 16 per boat.
What is the basis for the Navy’s decision of 16? And I'm sure cost is a factor. In what ways
will that decision impact the overall nuclear force structure associated with the command?
NAVY REAR ADMIRAL TERRY BENEDICT, DIRECTOR, STRATEGIC SYSTEMS
PROGRAMS (SSP):
Yes, sir. SSP supported the Navy analysis, STRATCOM’s analysis, as well as the OSD
analysis, as we proceeded forward and towards the Milestone A decision [on the Columbia
class program] that Dr. Carter conducted.
Based on our input, which was the technical input as the—as the director of SSP, other
factors were considered, as you stated. Cost was one of them. But as the secretary, as the
CNO, and I think as General Kehler submitted in their testimony, that given the threats that
we see today, given the mission that we see today, given the upload capability of the D-5,
and given the environment as they saw today, all three of those leaders were comfortable
with the decision to proceed forward with 16 tubes, sir.
SENATOR SESSIONS:
And is that represent your judgment? To what extent were you involved—were you
involved in that?
REAR ADMIRAL BENEDICT:
Sir, we were involved from technical aspects in terms of the capability of the missile itself,
what we can throw, our range, our capability. And based on what we understand the
capability of the D-5 today, which will be the baseline missile for the Ohio Replacement
Program, as the director of SSP I’m comfortable with that decision.98
Section 242 Report
Section 242 of the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1540/P.L. 112-81 of
December 31, 2011) required DOD to submit a report on the Columbia-class program that
includes, among other things, an assessment of various combinations of boat quantities and
numbers of SLBM launch tubes per boat. The text of the section is as follows:

97 Source: Transcript of hearing.
98 Source: Transcript of hearing.
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SEC. 242. REPORT AND COST ASSESSMENT OF OPTIONS FOR OHIO-CLASS
REPLACEMENT BALLISTIC MISSILE SUBMARINE.
(a) Report Required- Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the
Secretary of the Navy and the Commander of the United States Strategic Command shall
jointly submit to the congressional defense committees a report on each of the options
described in subsection (b) to replace the Ohio-class ballistic submarine program. The
report shall include the following:
(1) An assessment of the procurement cost and total life-cycle costs associated with each
option.
(2) An assessment of the ability for each option to meet—
(A) the at-sea requirements of the Commander that are in place as of the date of the
enactment of this Act; and
(B) any expected changes in such requirements.
(3) An assessment of the ability for each option to meet—
(A) the nuclear employment and planning guidance in place as of the date of the enactment
of this Act; and
(B) any expected changes in such guidance.
(4) A description of the postulated threat and strategic environment used to inform the
selection of a final option and how each option provides flexibility for responding to
changes in the threat and strategic environment.
(b) Options Considered- The options described in this subsection to replace the Ohio-class
ballistic submarine program are as follows:
(1) A fleet of 12 submarines with 16 missile tubes each.
(2) A fleet of 10 submarines with 20 missile tubes each.
(3) A fleet of 10 submarines with 16 missile tubes each.
(4) A fleet of eight submarines with 20 missile tubes each.
(5) Any other options the Secretary and the Commander consider appropriate.
(c) Form- The report required under subsection (a) shall be submitted in unclassified form,
but may include a classified annex.
Subsection (c) above states the report “shall be submitted in unclassified form, but may include a
classified annex.”
The report as submitted was primarily the classified annex, with a one-page unclassified
summary, the text of which is as follows (underlining as in the original):
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12) directed
the Secretary of the Navy and the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command
(USSTRATCOM) to jointly submit a report to the congressional defense committees
comparing four different options for the OHIO Replacement (OR) fleet ballistic missile
submarine (SSBN) program. Our assessment considered the current operational
requirements and guidance. The four SSBN options analyzed were:
1. 12 SSBNs with 16 missile tubes each
2. 10 SSBNs with 20 missile tubes each
3. 10 SSBNs with 16 missile tubes each
4. 8 SSBNs with 20 missile tubes each
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The SSBN force continues to be an integral part of our nuclear Triad and contributes to
deterrence through an assured second strike capability that is survivable, reliable, and
credible. The number of SSBNs and their combined missile tube capacity are important
factors in our flexibility to respond to changes in the threat and uncertainty in the strategic
environment.
We assessed each option against the ability to meet nuclear employment and planning
guidance, ability to satisfy at-sea requirements, flexibility to respond to future changes in
the postulated threat and strategic environment, and cost. In general, options with more
SSBNs can be adjusted downward in response to a diminished threat; however, options
with less SSBNs are more difficult to adjust upward in response to a growing threat.
Clearly, a smaller SSBN force would be less expensive than a larger force, but for the
reduced force options we assessed, they fail to meet current at-sea and nuclear employment
requirements, increase risk in force survivability, and limit flexibility in response to an
uncertain strategic future. Our assessment is the program of record, 12 SSBNs with 16
missile tubes each, provides the best balance of performance, flexibility, and cost meeting
commander’s requirements while supporting the Nation’s strategic deterrence mission
goals and objectives.
The classified annex contains detailed analysis that is not releasable to the public.99



99 Report and Cost Assessment of Options for OHIO-Class Replacement Ballistic Missile Submarine, Unclassified
Summary, received from Navy Legislative Affairs Office, August 24, 2012. See also Christopher J. Castelli,
“Classified Navy Assessment On SSBN(X) Endorses Program Of Record,” Inside the Navy, September 10, 2012.
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Appendix E. National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund
(NSBDF)
This appendix provides additional background information on the National Sea-Based Deterrence
Fund (NSBDF).
Created by P.L. 113-291
Section 1022 of the Carl Levin and Howard P. “Buck” McKeon National Defense Authorization
Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (H.R. 3979/P.L. 113-291 of December 19, 2014) created the National
Sea-Based Deterrence Fund (NSBDF), a fund in the DOD budget, codified at 10 U.S.C. 2218a,
that is separate from the Navy’s regular shipbuilding account (which is formally known as the
Shipbuilding and Conversion, Navy, or SCN, appropriation account).
Amended by P.L. 114-92, P.L. 114-328, and P.L. 115-91
Section 1022 of the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1356/P.L. 114-92 of
November 25, 2015), Section 1023 of the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (S.
2943/P.L. 114-328 of December 23, 2016), and Section 1022 of the FY2018 National Defense
Authorization Act (H.R. 2810/P.L. 115-91 of December 12, 2017) amended 10 U.S.C. 2218a to
provide additional acquisition authorities for the NSBDF.
Text as Amended
The text of 10 U.S.C. 2218a, as amended, is as follows:
§2218a. National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund
(a) Establishment.-There is established in the Treasury of the United States a fund to be
known as the “National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund”.
(b) Administration of Fund.-The Secretary of Defense shall administer the Fund consistent
with the provisions of this section.
(c) Fund Purposes.-(1) Funds in the Fund shall be available for obligation and expenditure
only for construction (including design of vessels), purchase, alteration, and conversion of
national sea-based deterrence vessels.
(2) Funds in the Fund may not be used for a purpose or program unless the purpose or
program is authorized by law.
(d) Deposits.-There shall be deposited in the Fund all funds appropriated to the Department
of Defense for construction (including design of vessels), purchase, alteration, and
conversion of national sea-based deterrence vessels.
(e) Expiration of Funds After 5 Years.-No part of an appropriation that is deposited in the
Fund pursuant to subsection (d) shall remain available for obligation more than five years
after the end of fiscal year for which appropriated except to the extent specifically provided
by law.
(f) Authority to Enter Into Economic Order Quantity Contracts.-(1) The Secretary of the
Navy may use funds deposited in the Fund to enter into contracts known as “economic
order quantity contracts” with private shipyards and other commercial or government
entities to achieve economic efficiencies based on production economies for major
components or subsystems. The authority under this subsection extends to the procurement
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of parts, components, and systems (including weapon systems) common with and required
for other nuclear powered vessels under joint economic order quantity contracts.
(2) A contract entered into under paragraph (1) shall provide that any obligation of the
United States to make a payment under the contract is subject to the availability of
appropriations for that purpose, and that total liability to the Government for termination
of any contract entered into shall be limited to the total amount of funding obligated at time
of termination.
(g) Authority to Begin Manufacturing and Fabrication Efforts Prior to Ship Authorization.-
(1) The Secretary of the Navy may use funds deposited into the Fund to enter into contracts
for advance construction of national sea-based deterrence vessels to support achieving cost
savings through workload management, manufacturing efficiencies, or workforce stability,
or to phase fabrication activities within shipyard and manage sub-tier manufacturer
capacity.
(2) A contract entered into under paragraph (1) shall provide that any obligation of the
United States to make a payment under the contract is subject to the availability of
appropriations for that purpose, and that total liability to the Government for termination
of any contract entered into shall be limited to the total amount of funding obligated at time
of termination.
(h) Authority to Use Incremental Funding to Enter Into Contracts for Certain Items.-(1)
The Secretary of the Navy may use funds deposited into the Fund to enter into
incrementally funded contracts for advance procurement of high value, long lead time
items for nuclear powered vessels to better support construction schedules and achieve cost
savings through schedule reductions and properly phased installment payments.
(2) A contract entered into under paragraph (1) shall provide that any obligation of the
United States to make a payment under the contract is subject to the availability of
appropriations for that purpose, and that total liability to the Government for termination
of any contract entered into shall be limited to the total amount of funding obligated at time
of termination.
(i) Authority for Multiyear Procurement of Critical Components to Support Continuous
Production.-(1) To implement the continuous production of critical components, the
Secretary of the Navy may use funds deposited in the Fund, in conjunction with funds
appropriated for the procurement of other nuclear-powered vessels, to enter into one or
more multiyear contracts (including economic ordering quantity contracts), for the
procurement of critical contractor-furnished and Government-furnished components for
critical components of national sea-based deterrence vessels. The authority under this
subsection extends to the procurement of equivalent critical components common with and
required for other nuclear-powered vessels.
(2) In each annual budget request submitted to Congress, the Secretary shall clearly identify
funds requested for critical components and the individual ships and programs for which
such funds are requested.
(3) Any contract entered into pursuant to paragraph (1) shall provide that any obligation of
the United States to make a payment under the contract is subject to the availability of
appropriations for that purpose and that the total liability to the Government for the
termination of the contract shall be limited to the total amount of funding obligated for the
contract as of the date of the termination.
(j) Budget Requests.-Budget requests submitted to Congress for the Fund shall separately
identify the amount requested for programs, projects, and activities for construction
(including design of vessels), purchase, alteration, and conversion of national sea-based
deterrence vessels.
(k) Definitions.-In this section:
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(1) The term “Fund” means the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund established by
subsection (a).
(2) The term “national sea-based deterrence vessel” means any submersible vessel
constructed or purchased after fiscal year 2016 that is owned, operated, or controlled by
the Department of Defense and that carries operational intercontinental ballistic missiles.
(3) The term “critical component” means any of the following:
(A) A common missile compartment component.
(B) A spherical air flask.
(C) An air induction diesel exhaust valve.
(D) An auxiliary seawater valve.
(E) A hovering valve.
(F) A missile compensation valve.
(G) A main seawater valve.
(H) A launch tube.
(I) A trash disposal unit.
(J) A logistics escape trunk.
(K) A torpedo tube.
(L) A weapons shipping cradle weldment.
(M) A control surface.
(N) A launcher component.
(O) A propulsor.
Precedents for Funding Navy Acquisition Programs Outside Navy
Appropriation Accounts
Prior to the establishment of the NSBDF, some observers had suggested funding the procurement
of Columbia-class boats outside the Navy’s shipbuilding budget, so as to preserve Navy
shipbuilding funds for other Navy shipbuilding programs. There was some precedent for such an
arrangement
 Construction of certain DOD sealift ships and Navy auxiliary ships was funded in
past years in the National Defense Sealift Fund (NDSF), a part of DOD’s budget
that is outside the Shipbuilding and Conversion, Navy (SCN) appropriation
account, and also outside the procurement title of the DOD appropriations act.
 Most spending for ballistic missile defense (BMD) programs (including
procurement-like activities) is funded through the Defense-Wide research and
development and procurement accounts rather than through the research and
development and procurement accounts of the individual military services.
A rationale for funding DOD sealift ships in the NDSF had been that DOD sealift ships perform a
transportation mission that primarily benefits services other than the Navy, and therefore should
not be forced to compete for funding in a Navy budget account that funds the procurement of
ships central to the Navy’s own missions. A rationale for funding BMD programs together in the
Defense-Wide research and development account is that this makes potential trade-offs in
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spending among various BMD programs more visible and thereby helps to optimize the use of
BMD funding.
Potential Implications of NSBDF on Funding Available for Other
Programs
The NSBDF has at least two potential implications for the impact that the Columbia-class
program may have on funding available in coming years for other DOD acquisition programs
 A principal apparent intent in creating the NSBDF is to help preserve funding in
coming years for other Navy programs, and particularly Navy shipbuilding
programs other than the Columbia-class program, by placing funding for the
Columbia-class program in a location within the DOD budget that is separate
from the Navy’s shipbuilding account and the Navy’s budget in general.
Referring to the fund as a national fund and locating it outside the Navy’s budget
appears intended to encourage a view (consistent with an argument made by
supporters of the Columbia-class program that the program is intended to meet a
national military need rather than a Navy-specific need) that funding for the
Columbia-class program should be resourced from DOD’s budget as a whole,
rather than from the Navy’s budget in particular.
 The acquisition authorities in subsections (f), (g), (h), and (i) of 10 U.S.C. 2218a,
which were added by P.L. 114-92 and P.L. 114-328, could marginally reduce the
procurement costs of not only Columbia-class boats, but also other nuclear-
powered ships, such as Virginia-class attack submarines and Gerald R. Ford
(CVN-78) class aircraft carriers, by increasing economies of scale in the
production of ship components and better optimizing ship construction schedules.
The joint explanatory statement for the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1356/P.L.
114-92 of November 25, 2015) directed DOD to submit a report on the “acquisition strategy to
build Ohio-class replacement submarines that will leverage the enhanced procurement authorities
provided in the [NSBDF] ... .” Among other things, the report was to identify “any additional
authorities the Secretary [of Defense] may need to make management of the Ohio-class
replacement more efficient....”100 The Navy submitted the report on April 18, 2016. The report
states in part that
the high cost for this unique, next generation strategic deterrent requires extraordinary
measures to ensure its affordability. Further, procuring the OHO Replacement (OR), the
next generation SSBN, within the current shipbuilding plan presents an extreme challenge
to the Navy’s shipbuilding budget. To minimize this challenge and reduce OR schedule
risk, the Navy proposes to leverage those authorities provided by the National Sea-Based
Deterrence Fund (NSBDF) in conjunction with the employment of best acquisition
practices on this critical program....
... the Navy is continuing to identify opportunities to further acquisition efficiency, reduce
schedule risk, and improve program affordability. Most notably in this regard, the Navy is
currently assessing [the concept of] Continuous Production [for producing components of
Columbia-class boats more efficiently than currently scheduled] and will keep Congress

100 Joint explanatory statement for H.R. 1735, p. 165 (PDF page 166 of 542). Following the veto of H.R. 1735, a
modified bill, S. 1356, was passed and enacted into law. Except for the parts of S. 1356 that differ from H.R. 1735, the
joint explanatory statement for H.R. 1735 in effect serves as the joint explanatory statement for S. 1356.
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informed as we quantify the benefits of this and other initiatives that promise substantial
savings....
... the Navy’s initial assessment is that the authorities and further initiatives described [in
this report] will be essential to achieving the reductions to acquisition cost and schedule
risk that are so critical to success on the OR program....
Section 1022 of the FY2016 NDAA authorized the use of funds in the NSBDF to enter into
contracts for EOQ [Economic Order Quantity purchases of materials and equipment] and
AC [advance construction activities in shipyards], and to incrementally fund contracts for
AP [advance procurement] of specific components. These authorities are essential to
successfully executing the OR acquisition strategy. The Navy is able to take advantage of
these authorities largely due to how its submarine shipbuilding plan is phased....
Economic Order Quantity contracts provide substantial cost savings to the Navy from
procuring materials and equipment in bulk quantities. In addition to the cost savings
typically associated with EOQ authority, the Navy has identified an opportunity to
implement EOQ procurements to achieve OR schedule efficiencies and commonality
contract actions with VCS [Virginia-class submarine] Block V [boats] and CVN [nuclear-
powered aircraft carriers]....
Advance Construction is the authority to begin [shipyard] construction [work] in fiscal
years of AP [advance procurement] budget requests prior to the full funding/authorization
year of a hull. Early manufacturing activities help retire construction risk for first-of-a-kind
efforts, ease transition from design to production, and provide efficiencies in shipyard
construction workload. Advance Construction would allow the shipbuilders to begin
critical path construction activities earlier, thus reducing risk to the OR delivery schedule....
The FY2016 NDAA allows the Navy and shipbuilders to enter into incrementally funded
procurements for long lead components that employ both AP and Full Funding (FF) SCN
increments. This funding approach will provide significant schedule improvements and
cost savings by maximizing the utilization of limited funding....
Maximum economic advantage can be obtained through Continuous Production. Procuring
components and systems necessary for Continuous Production lines [as opposed to
production lines that experience periods during which they are without work] would
provide opportunities for savings through manufacturing efficiencies, increased
[production-line] learning and the retention of critical production skills. In addition to
lowering costs, Continuous Production would reduce schedule risk for both the U.S. and
UK SSBN construction programs and minimize year-to-year funding spikes. To execute
Continuous Production, the Navy requires authority to enter into contracts to procure
contractor furnished and government furnished components and systems for OR SSBNs.
OR Missile Tube and Missile Tube Module component procurement through Continuous
Production lines have been identified as the most efficient and affordable procurement
strategy.... Missile Tube Continuous Production could achieve an average reduction of 25
percent in Missile Tube procurement costs across the [Columbia] Class. These savings are
compared to [the] single shipset procurement costs [that are] included in the PB17 PoR
[the program of record reflected in the President’s (proposed) Budget for FY2017]....
The Navy estimates that procuring Missile Tube Modules in Continuous Production lines
would result in a cumulative one year schedule reduction in Missile Tube Module
manufacturing for the OR Class. This schedule reduction, on a potential critical path
assembly, would reduce ship delivery risk and increase schedule margin for follow ship
deliveries. In addition to improving schedule, Missile Tube Module Continuous Production
(including Strategic Weapon System (SWS) Government Furnished Equipment (GFE))
would produce savings as high as 20 percent compared to single shipset procurement costs
included in the PB17 PoR. Executing Continuous Production of Missile Tubes or Missile
Tube Modules requires re-phasing of funding from outside the PB17 Future Year’s
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Defense Program (FYDP) [to years that are within the FYDP] but results in significant
overall program reductions. The Navy is evaluating additional Continuous Production
opportunities for nuclear and nonnuclear components with common vendors required for
VIRGINIA Class submarines and FORD Class aircraft carriers. Some examples include
spherical air flasks, hull valves, pressure hull hemi heads, bow domes, castings, and
torpedo tubes. The prerequisite to Continuous Production in each of these cases would be
an affirmation of design stability consistent with completion of first article testing, or its
equivalent....
The Navy’s position on the cost benefits of these authorities is not fully developed.
However, the Congressional Budget Office stated in its Analysis of the Navy’s FY2016
Shipbuilding Plan
, “ ... the Navy could potentially save several hundred million dollars per
submarine by purchasing components and materials for several submarines at the same
time.”... The Navy’s initial cost analysis aligns with CBO’s projections, and the cost
reductions from employing these acquisition authorities will be further evaluated to support
the Navy’s updated OR Milestone B cost estimate in August 2016....
The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD AT&L)
approved the OR Program Acquisition Strategy on January 4, 2016. This strategy
emphasizes using alternative acquisition tools and cross-platform contracting to reduce
schedule risk and lower costs in support of the Navy’s shipbuilding programs....
To reduce costs and help alleviate fiscal pressures, the Navy will work with Congress to
implement granted authorities and explore the additional initiatives identified in this
report.... The cost reductions from employing the granted and proposed acquisition
authorities will be further evaluated to support the Navy’s updated OR Milestone B cost
estimate in August 2016.... These authorities are needed with the National Sea-Based
Deterrence Fund, RDTEN [research, development, test, and evaluation, Navy], and SCN
appropriations accounts. Together, these acquisition tools will allow the Navy, and the
shipbuilders, to implement the procurement strategy which will reduce total OR acquisition
costs and shorten construction schedules for a program with no margin for delay.101


Author Information

Ronald O'Rourke

Specialist in Naval Affairs


101 U.S. Navy, Report to Congress on Ohio Replacement Acquisition Strategy and National Sea-Based Deterrence
Fund Accountability
, April 2016, with cover letters dated April 18, 2016, pp. 1-8.
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