But appropriators, who actually dole out the money, have been
loath to follow suit, resisting a special funding stream for the program
despite arguments from their Armed
Services counterparts that the submarine is a national strategic asset. In
December, they declined in the fiscal
2016 omnibus spending bill to move
money into the deterrence fund, and
Senate Appropriations Committee
Chairman Thad Cochran has sig-
naled his mind has not changed in
the intervening months.
“We appreciate your efforts
to maintain a robust shipbuild-
ing budget,” the Mississippi
Republican, who also chairs the
defense subcommittee, told Navy
leaders March 2. “Specifically, we
welcome the inclusion of full fund-
ing for the Ohio-class replacement
program within the Navy’s regular
budget request from fiscal year
2017 through fiscal year 2021.”
Critics of the submarine fund are
worried that it would create a prec-
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 6 SEAPOWER / MAY 2016
Authorizers, Appropriators at Odds
Over Ohio Replacement Funding
As work on the annual defense bills gets under way this spring, top authorizers and appropriators
seem to remain at odds over a special account created
to fund the $139 billion effort to replace the Navy’s
aging fleet of Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines.
The 12 new submarines are the Navy’s top procurement priority, but their costs threaten to squeeze out
other priorities in the service’s shipbuilding budget.
The Navy has requested $1.9 billion for the program
next year, but the annual price tag will swell in the
coming years as the service prepares to start building
the so-called boomers in 2021.
With the Defense Department’s dollars capped
for the foreseeable future, House and Senate Armed
Services Committee members want to ensure that the
program — which constitutes one leg of the nuclear
triad — is protected.
“If we take the cost of that boat and put it in the
middle of the shipbuilding budget, we know what happens,” Republican Rep. Rob Wittman, who hails from
shipbuilding-heavy southern Virginia, said at a March
16 House Armed Services hearing. “What I believe we
need to be looking at is what do we do to mitigate that?”
Indeed, they already have attempted to mitigate
that by using the fiscal 2015 defense authorization
law to create the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund,
which essentially separated the Ohio-class replacement out from the rest of the Navy’s shipbuilding
accounts. Last year, authorizers even expanded that
The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine (SSBN) USS
Nebraska undocks from a dry dock at Puget Sound Naval
Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility March 8.
Nebraska has been at the shipyard since February 2014
for an Engineering Refueling Overhaul, which provides up
to 20 years of additional service life for the submarine.
Building 12 new submarines to replace the SSBNs is the
Navy’s top procurement priority.