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Courtney Gets Confirmation from Armed Forces Leaders: Submarines Are Critical to U.S. National Security Priorities, and President Biden’s Budget Supports Them

June 23, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02) spoke with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about the enduring importance of submarines to the mission of America’s Armed Forces, especially as national security priorities shift towards the Indo-Pacific and Arctic regions.

In a House Armed Services Committee hearing today examining the U.S. Department of Defense FY 2022 budget request, Courtney noted the importance that both Secretary Austin and General Milley have placed on deterring adversarial nations like China and Russia from outpacing the capabilities of the U.S. Navy and American Armed Forces. Rep. Courtney is the Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, which oversees U.S. Navy shipbuilding, and has received testimony for years from U.S. Armed Forces leaders that submarines are the Navy’s most versatile and most important tool. Amid growing concerns over China’s rapidly growing navy, and Russia’s new submarines that are “on par with ours”, President Biden’s FY 2022 budget request proposes a historic investment in America’s undersea fleet—nearly $12 billion for U.S. submarine construction and development, more than any budget request since the 1980’s.

Courtney spoke to Secretary Austin and General Milley about the importance of that request today, watch the full exchange below.

“First of all, we have the most dominant naval force on the face of the planet,” said Secretary Austin, in response to Rep. Courtney’s questions about increased Chinese and Russian submarine activity. “A key piece of that capability is what our submarine force brings to the table. It is absolutely relevant to the future fight, it is necessary, so I think our investments here are well placed.”

“Congressman, I would say that relevant to a future fight, there are a couple of things to consider—survivability, smaller is better; dispersal—and submarines, by their nature, are extraordinarily survivable, they are very lethal, and they are one of the significant asymmetric advantages that the United States has,” General Milley stated. “We have an incredible submarine force, and it is probably the most lethal weapon on the battlefield in some future operating environment, so continued investment in subs is well worth it.”

President Biden’s budget proposal includes $6.4 billion for construction of two Virginia-class submarines and advanced procurement for future submarines. It also includes $4.6 billion to continue work on the Navy’s next-generation class of submarine, the Columbia-class.
Rep. Courtney has worked to shepherd the Columbia-class program towards completion from its inception. In 2008, he helped secure the first-ever funding for design and concept studies of the Columbia program. In 2015, he championed the creation of the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund (NSBDF), which has provided DOD with additional flexibility and authority to fund Columbia-class throughout the years. In 2019, Courtney helped break ground at Electric Boat’s new South Yard Assembly Building, the new production facility designed specifically for the construction of the Columbia-class. In June 2020, he helped announce the award of Columbia-class construction to EB.

In September 2020, Congress passed a short-term Continuing Resolution that included a provision authored by Rep. Courtney to ensure Columbia-class construction would begin on time, this year, as scheduled. That effort was successful—construction on theColumbia-class submarine program will begin this year at EB’s new South Yard Assembly Building in Groton, CT.

On Monday, Courtney met with shipbuilders and labor representatives at the Groton shipyard to discuss the major uptick in activity as construction on Virginia-class submarines continues, as Columbia-class commences, and as Congress considers President Biden’s historic budget request for submarine construction. The EB shipyard is well underway with preparing for the start of Columbia-class this year—see below for some of the latest pictures of progress on the new South Yard Assembly Building.