Ohio Replacement Class – a Collaborative Effort

In his previous blog concerning the Ohio Replacement program, Rear Adm. Barry Bruner, Director of Undersea Warfare, discussed the need for continued sea-based deterrence, how the Ohio Replacement SSBN will meet this need, how we are going to build an Ohio Replacement at the most responsible cost, and the basis for our SSBN force structure. In the following blog Bruner focuses on the incredible support the Ohio Replacement team is receiving during their continuing efforts to make the next generation SSBN a reality.

Developing and building a major weapons system requires support from many organizations throughout the government to include the Department of the Navy, the Department of Defense, and Congress. The Chief of Naval Operations provides the warfighting requirements for the Ohio Replacement program. Most recently, he signed the Navy’s Capability Development Document for the program which will guide the ship’s technology development and design efforts. The Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition provides acquisition oversight and expertise to Naval Sea System Command ‘s efforts to design and build Ohio Replacement. Similarly, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics provides oversight and direction to the program as it proceeds through its acquisition milestones, most recently approving the program proceeding to the Technology Development phase when it approved the program achieving Milestone A in January 2011. As the warfighting “customer”, United States Strategic Command, the Combatant Commander for our strategic nuclear forces, collaborates closely with us on our efforts. Similarly, the Joint Staff and the respective Service Chiefs provide oversight for the program through the Joint Requirements Oversight Council which approved the Ohio Replacement’s Initial Capabilities Document in 2008 and will review and approve the Ohio Replacement Capability Development Document in 2015. Finally, Congress provides funding and oversight of the program. We greatly appreciate Congress’ recognition of the enduring mission for our SSBNs and its support of the President’s budget requests for Ohio Replacement development.

Just as important in delivering Ohio Replacement with the required capabilities to meet the warfighter’s needs is the need to deliver the ship in the most cost efficient manner. The organizations above are working very closely with my staff and Naval Sea Systems Command to ensure we are cost conscious, not only in our construction efforts but also in our efforts to design the ship to be affordable over its entire service life. Another major factor in the cost discussion is ensuring our efforts to build Ohio Replacement are integrated into the overall Navy shipbuilding effort. While we appropriately see our Ohio Replacement effort as a national imperative, we also recognize the need to ensure our country can continue to maintain a strong Navy through a healthy and sustainable ship building plan that produces the right balance of platforms and capabilities. Our efforts to drive down costs are critical to not only the successful delivery of the Ohio Replacement class, but also to the continued success of the Navy’s other shipbuilding programs including the Virginia Class SSN. The Virginia Class Submarine Program is widely recognized for delivering required warfighting capability at the most affordable cost, is a must fund, and the investment in procuring two Virginia Class Submarines per year now will pay huge dividends in the coming decades. We must drive down the cost of both classes of submarines to be able to procure two Virginia’s per year and Ohio Replacement at the same time. That is our goal and it is a necessity to the future of our Nation.

Read Rear Adm. Bruner’s Previous Blog 

As you can see, the Ohio Replacement program is truly a team effort. We enjoy strong, unwavering support throughout the Department of Defense and Congress. We recognize this support comes with the expectation that we will continue to be good stewards of our Nation’s resources as we deliver our Nation’s most survivable strategic deterrent on time and at the most responsible cost.