A one hundred billion dollar plan for the US Navy to procure 12 new Columbia-class nuclear submarines has moved forward. Outgoing Pentagon acquisition undersecretary Frank Kendall gave his blessing to the program, announcing the Milestone B approval
, which will move work on the new subs into the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase. With less than ten days left of the Obama administration, it is expected that President-elect Donald Trump will continue the effort after his inauguration on January 20. Costing $127 billion and expected to stretch into the 2030s, the program will see Ohio-class nuclear submarines replaced in what was originally referred to as the Ohio Class Replacement (ORP).
This DII Spotlight article covers American nuclear propulsion industrial base contracts since the beginning of FY 2006. The USA has had an all-nuclear submarine fleet for over 50 years, a policy that dates back to the visionary Admiral Hyman Rickover. On the surface, America’s aircraft carriers became an all-nuclear fleet with the retirement of the USS Kitty Hawk [CV 63], and FY 2008-09 spending legislation pushed the US Navy to use nuclear power in its future CG (X) cruisers and new amphibious ship classes. At present, however, carriers are the only nuclear-powered American surface ships on the drawing board.
The civilian nuclear sector has seen major advances over the last 2 decades, and so has the military sector. The commitment to a nuclear fleet includes funding for those technical advances, as well as work to maintain both the reactors on board American ships, and the industrial base that supports them.