Columbia-Class Achieves 'Milestone B' As The National Sea Based Deterrence Fund Comes Online
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) ranking member of the House Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, hailed the approval of the Milestone B review for the Columbia-class program which is a critical step in the defense acquisition process.
In addition, Courtney was informed earlier this week that funding for the procurement of the Columbia-class program appropriated in the Continuing Resolution (CR) this past December has been placed in the National Sea Based Deterrence Fund (NSBDF), marking the first time the fund has been utilized. The statute creating the NSBDF was coauthored by Courtney and former Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA).“Achieving this milestone is no small feat for a large program like this one - and it represents years of hard work by many people, especially the men and women of Electric Boat,” Courtney said. “For eastern Connecticut, today’s news underscores the positive outlook for hiring and growth across the submarine industrial base in our region. It is also, however, really just the beginning of the hard work ahead in designing and building this submarine within the already tight timeline we face. I know that the hardworking men and women in the Navy, in industry in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Virginia, and in countless machine shops across the country, are up to the task – and today’s decision is a vote of confidence in their efforts.
Milestone B is a critical step in the defense acquisition process, after which a program becomes a program of record with an approved baseline from which cost, performance, and schedule will be measured. In order to pass Milestone B, a program must have validated requirements, independent cost estimates, full funding over the the next five years, significant risk reduction justifying commitment to the program, and an updated acquisition strategy. In this phase, the detailed design and construction of the first Columbia-class boat will begin, and all systems and components of the submarine are integrated together.
“I am also very encouraged that the National Sea Based Deterrence Fund, which I have championed and defended for years, is being utilized for the first time. When the fund was first established with broad bipartisan support in 2015, it demonstrated a strong commitment by Congress for ensuring that our nation can meet the multi-generational responsibility of replacing our strategic submarines without squeezing out other vital naval ships and submarines. Since then, we’ve added the tools and authorities needed to continue to bring down the costs of the program and ensure that the Columbia can be built and delivered on its already tight timeline. I am pleased to see the fund is finally being utilized and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to support this program into the future.”
Courtney has been a leading advocate of the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund (NSBDF), which set up a separate fund through which the Columbia-class would be funded outside of the regular shipbuilding account. In addition, Courtney has expanded the fund to include new authorities that widen the Navy’s available tools in reducing costs across the program, such as incremental funding and the continuous production of components like missile tubes. Experts from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Congressional Research Service (CRS) have testified that these authorities could save nearly 10 percent from the total cost of the $100 billion program.
The $773 million in FY17 money which moved into the fund was made possible by the anomaly in the FY17 Continuing Resolution. Courtney led a bipartisan letter in support of this anomaly.
Courtney has served as Ranking Member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over Navy shipbuilding programs including the Columbia-class, since 2015.