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Wittman, Courtney, Langevin Lead Bipartisan Coalition Urging Increased Submarine Funding in Final Spending Package

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Washington, January 4, 2018 | comments

Wittman, Courtney, Langevin Lead Bipartisan Coalition Urging Increased Submarine Funding in Final Spending Package

WASHINGTON – This week, co-chairs of the Congressional Submarine Caucus, Rep. Rob Wittman (VA-01), Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02, and Rep. Jim Langevin (RI-02), released a bipartisan letter that was sent to the Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations requesting increased funding for submarines in the final appropriations bill for FY 2018. Specifically, the letter asks for increased construction funding to match the funding levels in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. The letter was signed by 36 members of the House of Representatives.

“Fast-attack submarines remain one of the most effective and sought after tools in our nation’s arsenal,” wrote the members. “The Navy’s December 2016 Force Structure Assessment (FSA) supported the testimony of our military commanders in stating that the United States should maintain a force of at least 66 fast attack submarines. This represents an increase from the previous requirement of 48 submarines, and is the largest increase in ship requirements in the new FSA.

“However, with the retirement of Los Angeles-class submarines at a faster rate than Virginia-class construction, the SSN force will drop to a low of just 41 submarines, more than one-third below the requirement to defend America’s national security interests around the globe. Under plans reflected in the 2018 budget request to continue the two-per-year build rate, the attack submarine force will not meet minimum requirements until 2048.

“As you complete the final appropriations bill, we strongly encourage you to fund the Virginia-class program in line with NDAA authorized-levels to the maximum extent possible. While the undersea industrial base is preparing to begin work on the new Columbia-class submarine, we believe that there is sufficient capacity to increase production of the Virginia-class submarine to help meet demand for undersea capabilities in the fleet, ramp up an efficient workforce to tackle Columbia, and boost our supplier network. It is vital that Congress send a clear signal of support to our fleet commanders and our industrial base by ensuring that the final funding package provides as robust an investment possible in our undersea fleet.”

The FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which is now law, authorized $5.9 billion for Virginia class submarine construction -- $698 million more than the president’s budget request. Additionally, the NDAA provided authorization for the Navy to procure up to 13 submarines in the next “block” contract, three more than currently planned.

The House defense appropriations measure, passed in July, included an amendment offered by Courtney, Wittman, and Langevin to match the NDAA’s authorization of up to 13 submarines in the next block.

The full text of the letter is below

December 21, 2017

The Honorable Kay Granger
Chairman
Subcommittee on Defense
Committee on Appropriations
H-305 The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Peter Visclosky
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Defense
Committee on Appropriations
1016 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Granger and Ranking Member Visclosky,

As you complete negotiations on a final appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2018, we write to encourage you to support increased submarine construction funding to meet the Navy’s requirements and match bipartisan investment included in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report.

Fast-attack submarines remain one of the most effective and sought after tools in our nation’s arsenal. The Navy’s December 2016 Force Structure Assessment (FSA) supported the testimony of our military commanders in stating that the United States should maintain a force of at least 66 fast attack submarines. This represents an increase from the previous requirement of 48 submarines, and is the largest increase in ship requirements in the new FSA. However, with the retirement of Los Angeles-class submarines at a faster rate than Virginia-class construction, the SSN force will drop to a low of just 41 submarines, more than one-third below the requirement to defend America’s national security interests around the globe. Under plans reflected in the 2018 budget request to continue the two-per-year build rate, the attack submarine force will not meet minimum requirements until 2048.

With demand for undersea capabilities growing and the shortfall in the fleet approaching fast, it is clear that Congress must ensure that production meets the needs of our combatant commanders. To this end, the conference report for the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which received overwhelming support in both houses of Congress, included multiyear procurement (MYP) authority to procure up to thirteen submarines in the Block V contract – three more than requested in the budget for the next “block” contract. The NDAA also authorized $698 million in additional funds for a third submarine in 2020, economic order quantity funding, and authorities to prepare the submarine industrial base for the future construction ramp-up. As you are aware, the House and Senate appropriations bills also endorsed increased submarine construction, with the House bill matching the NDAA’s MYP authority for up to thirteen submarines in the Block V contract and the Senate bill including additional funding for the submarine industrial base.

As you complete the final appropriations bill, we strongly encourage you to fund the Virginia-class program in line with NDAA authorized-levels to the maximum extent possible. While the undersea industrial base is preparing to begin work on the new Columbia-class submarine, we believe that there is sufficient capacity to increase production of the Virginia-class submarine to help meet demand for undersea capabilities in the fleet, ramp up an efficient workforce to tackle Columbia, and boost our supplier network. It is vital that Congress send a clear signal of support to our fleet commanders and our industrial base by ensuring that the final funding package provides as robust an investment possible in our undersea fleet.

We additionally request that funding be provided with sufficient flexibility for the Navy and industrial base to allocate funding where it can provide maximum benefit to the construction schedule and the long-term interests of the taxpayer. Supplier development must be funded now due to the lead time necessary to add sustained capacity in the industrial base and to qualify new suppliers to perform complex work. Providing flexibility in how additional funds could be used would help maintain submarine construction schedules and reduce cost, while also helping the Navy maintain its operational submarine requirements.

We firmly believe that the final appropriations bill should follow Congress’s clear direction to increase submarine construction while providing sufficient flexibility to the Navy and industry to mitigate the SSN shortfall. Thank you for your attention to this request and your unwavering support of our national defense.

Sincerely,

REP. ROB WITTMAN
REP. JOE COURTNEY
REP. JIM LANGEVIN
REP. BRADLEY BYRNE
REP. ANN MCLANE KUSTER
REP. ELIZABETH H. ESTY
REP. THOMAS R. SUOZZI
REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK
REP. A. DONALD MCEACHIN
REP. RYAN COSTELLO
REP. PETER KING
REP. RICHARD E. NEAL
REP. JACKIE WALORSKI
REP. COLLEEN HANABUSA
REP. JAMES P. MCGOVERN
REP. LLOYD SMUCKER
REP. DWIGHT EVANS
REP. CHRIS COLLINS
REP. BRENDAN F. BOYLE
REP. ROBERT C. “BOBBY” SCOTT
REP. SCOTT PERRY
REP. SUSAN DAVIS
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO
REP. JIM HIMES
REP. JOHN B. LARSON
REP. CAROL SHEA-PORTER
REP. MIKE KELLY
REP. BILL JOHNSON
REP. ROBERT A. BRADY
REP. DAVID N. CICILLINE
REP. PATRICK MEEHAN
REP. LEONARD LANCE
REP. ROSA DELAURO
REP. FRANK A. LOBIONDO
REP. MADELEINE Z. BORDALLO
REP. TOM MACARTHUR


Congressman Rob Wittman represents the 1st District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he is the Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.

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