Virginia’s Rob Wittman, who represents the Commonwealth’s 1st CD, is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Seapower and Proejection of the House Armed Services Committee as well as co-chair of the Congressional Shipbuilidng Caucus. Very few people on the Hill are as knowledgeable about the Navy’s needs, both immediate and longer term, than Congressman Wittman. Spread the link to this transcript around to your own congressmen and senators and ask them to get a clue in a hurry about funding our Navy as it needs to be funded:
HH: This segment and next, I’m talking with Congressman Rob Wittman of Virginia’s 1st Congressional District. He is the Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Sea Power and Readiness. He’s also co-chairman of the Shipbuilding Caucus in the House. He’s the Chairman of the United States Naval Academy Board of Visitors. He knows his Navy. And Rob Wittman, welcome back, it’s good to have you, Congressman.
RW: Hugh, it’s great to be back with you. Thanks for the opportunity.
HH: Well, I was moved to call you this morning, because the New York Times has a very long and interesting story on the modernization of our nuclear deterrent, and tucked into that is a couple of paragraphs, the main job of one of the facilities is extending the life of a nearly 40 year old submarine warhead called the W-76. And I got to researching, I was in a shipbuilding facility last week, and got to learn that our Ohio class submarines start to run out of shelf life pretty soon. And you’re the chairman of the Shipbuilding Caucus. We’ve got to get very serious about replenishing our seaborne deterrent, don’t we?
RW: We do absolutely. In fact, it’s a very timely issue, Hugh. We had Admiral Richardson before the Shipbuilding Caucus just this past week to talk specifically about Ohio class replacement, how we’re coming along with the design on the next generation nuclear submarine, the SSBN-(X) as it’s termed, to determine where are we with schedule of design. My concern is this, Hugh. I still believe that we are going to be short of the time when the Ohio class submarines are retired, and when the new SSBN-(X) class of submarine is available. That will mean that we will have fewer submarines than what I believe we need to provide the necessary nuclear deterrent, which concerns me deeply. And these submarines, by the time they’re built, are going to be about $6 billion dollars a copy. So it’s not like you’re going to make that money up or make that time up if we don’t do something now. Now this year, in the National Defense Authorization Act, we put a place in the budget to specifically fund these submarines. Now the next step is to put money in it. And that’s going to be the key, I believe, next year, if we don’t properly fund the design and development phase of this so that we get the design complete, or mostly complete before we go to the yard, then this submarine could be delayed. And I can tell you if it’s delayed any more than what it’s already been delayed, we’re going to have problems. Continue Reading