In 2011, Congress authorized the Navy to build two Virginia–class submarines, marking the first time since 1989 that two submarines of the same class were authorized in the same year. While at press time the two ships scheduled to begin construction in Fiscal Year 2011 had not received full funding, Congress seems intent on providing the funds so the Navy can move forward.
Originally, the Navy planned to increase production from one ship per year to two starting in 2002. However, changes to the shipbuilding plan, budget cuts, and cost growth delayed such production by nine years—and even that was not guaranteed. To reach this point, the Virginia–class program had to execute a one-of-a-kind cost-reduction effort to remove nearly 20 percent from its acquisition costs. What made this endeavor both extraordinary and difficult was that it had to occur on a mature program already in serial production. That the program could successfully execute this task serves as a model for other acquisition efforts facing more constrained budgets as the government looks to reduce spending.