The question of how the Department of Defense will pay for the Ohio-class submarine replacement program, which will build new ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs) as the Ohio class retires from the Fleet in the 2020s and 2030s, looms as one of the most important budgetary issues facing the DOD over the next two decades. Recently, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus stated that unless the Navy receives additional funding above current levels of shipbuilding, the new SSBNs could “gut” the service’s shipbuilding budget for a decade while they are built.1 Other Navy officials have made similar statements. Although some analysts have questioned the value of building new SSBNs, there appears to be no question in the Navy’s mind of not building the submarines. In testimony before Congress in summer 2014, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert called the Ohio replacement the Navy’s “top-priority program.”2
Finding Funding for the New Boomer
The Polaris and Trident eras of yesteryear offer insights on the budgetary path forward for the Ohio-class submarine replacement program.
By Eric J. Labs