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Sequestration poses minimal threat to Ohio-class replacement subs

by Kris Osborn on April 9, 2013

Navy officials said Tuesday the budget cuts associated with sequestration will have a minimal effect on the Ohio-class submarine replacement program.

The service is in the early phases of developing a class of high-tech, next-generation Ohio-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. Budget adjustments due to sequestration will for the Navy to synchronize elements of the technology development phase but not largely impact the program, program managers said at the Sea Air Space Exposition at National Harbor, Md. 

“The next contract for the lead ship will be for fiscal year ‘17, which we expect to award in December of 2016. It will be for detailed design and construction,” said Capt. Bill Brougham, program manager, Ohio-class submarine replacement program.

The original nuclear-powered Ohio-class submarines, built in the late 1970s, will begin to retire by 2029. The acquisition strategy for the replacement program will call for competitive prototyping in order to mature the technologies and lower risk prior to moving into the next-phase of development, Brougham said.

Brougham explained that current plans for the ship call for the program to go before the Joint Requirements Oversight Council in 2015 and move into the next phase by 2016.

The Navy awarded General Dynamics’ Electric Boat Division a $1.85 billion contract for the development of the Ohio-Class Replacement Program. Navy leaders hope to build 12 new ballistic missile submarines out of the program to replace the 14 existing Ohio-class submarines.

The $1.85 billion will obviously not cover the entire development, but it’s a boost for a program that Navy officials have listed as its top priority.

Navy acquisition officials worked a series of incentives into the cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. They were included by Naval Sea Systems Command to motivate General Dynamics in a sector they don’t face much competition.

The U.S. Navy is partnering with the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense for the development of a key part of the submarine’s technology, the common missile compartment.

“The common missile compartment is a joint program signed up with the British government. They are paying for the design and have a cost share to buy into the program. We’re progressing and we have lots of reviews and we’re making good on our commitments,” said Brougham.

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