Submarines, Aircraft, Surface Ships Will All Suffer If There Is No Federal Budget By January
PORTSMOUTH, Va., — If Congress fails to pass a budget in January, submarines, aircraft and surface ships are all at risk of being delayed or canceled, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said Oct. 30.
Another continuing resolution, coupled with sequestration, will endanger production of new platforms, interfere with training and create a bottleneck in ship maintenance, Greenert told the National Defense Industrial Association's expeditionary warfare conference.
“We’re behind and starting to build up a backlog. If you said, right now, we have full funding, we could work that backlog down in about three years,” he said.
Depending on future funding and mission requirements, that schedule could stretch to five, or even 10, years, he said.
At the very least, Greenert wants flexibility to move funds into operations, maintenance and modernization. Boosting each of those accounts by $1 billion would alleviate some of the effects of the latest fiscal crisis, he said.
“We have identified for the Congress that if we get to this situation and we get sequestration we want to reprogram money and we’d really like to do it by January,” he said. “If you don’t do that, you … probably lose a submarine, probably lose the afloat forward staging base contract, might lose a destroyer contract, probably lose the littoral combat ship contract.”
At least 25 aircraft of would also be delayed or axed, he said. More than half — 35 out of 60 — maintenance contracts could be canceled for lack of funds, Greenert said.
Delaying submarine construction is a major concern, the career submariner said. The Ohio-class replacement program is a multi-year procurement on par with aircraft carrier acquisition. Cost for both is associated with buying materials and performing construction on a strict schedule. Deviance from that schedule, for whatever reason, breeds overruns.
At the top of Greenert’s list of modernization and procurement concerns is the Ohio-class submarine replacement program.
“We get a sub at a very reduced price if we do it under a multi-year procurement,” he said. “But if we don’t have enough money for contracts with the vendors … the agreement is broken.”
“No decision is a decision to continue with sequestration because the law will go into effect,” he said. “We’re out of balance at this point. Some of the accounts need investment money.”
The Navy already has inadequate funding to steam ships, train sailors and pilots. Continued sequestration would worsen the situation, he said.
“So that’s just this year. If you do exactly the same ting next year … even if you get it all resolved by halfway or three-quarters through the year, there are months where projects sit there fallow. They just sit there waiting to be reconciled … am I going to get canceled?”
The impact on industry would be significant, he said. Keeping the purse strings tight could put subcontractors out of business. Without a multilayered industrial base, the U.S. military is without support to ramp up in response to future conflicts, he said.