May 4, 2007 - The House Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee (which controls Navy and Marine Corps procurement and R&D programs) completed
its markup of H.R. 1585, The National Defense Authorization Act for FY08.
The subcommittee's version of the bill would increase spending by $588 million for Virginia Class reactor plant heavy components and main propulsion components. The additional ship-set equipment provides limited flexibility to boost sub construction for Virginias to two per year before the Navy's current goal of 2012.
The current bill contains authorization for the Secretary of the Navy to enter into a multiyear build contract for Virginia class submarines beginning with fiscal year 2009.
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The USS Virginia (SSN-774) was commissioned on 23 October 2004 and on 23 November 2005, Virginia completed her first deployment in support of the Global War on Terrorism. At the rate this lead boat's power plant will have been driven (speeds and power factors) is it possible an early refueling is forecasted for her own reactor?
In addition to providing flexibility to boost sub construction, the current bill would also absorb a large chunk of early refueling cost. If the measure ultimately passes both houses, it provides a convenient avenue for Navy face-saving down the road.
Most senior admirals do not want to ramp up submarine production ahead of schedule. As Molten Eagle has often speculated, there is probably an excellent reason for delaying: the Virginia class design will probably not be the one produced most heavily after 2012. Why monopolize outyear production schedules with multiple copies of a costly, nuclear design that certainly performs its missions superbly, but that would not be as suitable for other missions that will be demanded?
Labels: spare Virginia submarine nuclear reactor