Blumenthal, Murphy, ask for more money for submarine construction

General Dynamics Electric Boat

An Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine under way. The new Columbia class will replace the Ohio-class boats.

Washington – Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy on Thursday asked Senate appropriators for $150 million in additional advance-procurement money for the new Columbia-class submarine that will be built largely by Electric Boat, with the help of Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.

The Pentagon has asked for nearly $843 million to ramp up the submarine supply base ahead of construction of the Columbia-class nuclear ballistic missile submarine, which will replace aging Ohio-class subs and be the most expensive subs the Navy has ever built.

The first Columbia-class submarine is scheduled to be completed in 2021 at a cost of about $6.2 billion. The following 11 subs will cost about $4.2 billion apiece.

Blumenthal and Murphy, in a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee leaders, said more money is needed to set up construction because planned submarine production is expected to increase more than 200 percent over the next decade “yet there are just 3,000 active suppliers as compared to 17,000 at the height of submarine production in the 1980s.”

Many of those suppliers are in Connecticut.

“Advance-procurement funding to help re-constitute the submarine supply base would help ensure Columbia-class work remains on time and under budget,” the senators wrote. “We know from lessons learned that insufficient supplier and shipbuilder capacity and readiness have been contributing factors to lead-ship cost growth and associated delays in major shipbuilding programs.”

The Pentagon’s budget, part of President Donald Trump’s budget request for 2018, already has been boosted by $30 billion. The Pentagon has an additional “wish list” of another $30 billion.

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