The nation's submarine force is running at flank speed on multiple fronts. Submarines are making critical contributions to the Global War on Terror. The community is looking toward increasing the submarine construction rate in a few years. And warfighters are expanding the mission sets for both attack boats (SSNs) and Ohio-class converted boomers (SSGNs). Submarines are even getting into the anti-air warfare business.
The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Mike Mullen, is moving to help the submarine community deal with dangerous shortfalls that will hit the undersea fleet in the coming decades. If current build and retirement rates continue, America will have only 28 attack subs in the year 2028. But the CNO has proposed two Virginia-class SSNs for the shipbuilding budget starting in 2012, and is considering options for increasing the build rate sooner to ensure that the force never falls below 40 SSNs and SSGNs. The end zone in this fight is to get a second SSN into the Five Year Defense Plan, with real money placed against the boat.