Courtney Statement on Third Attack Submarine in FY 2020 Defense Budget
Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, issued the following statement regarding the announcement that the Department of Defense (DOD) will request authorization for three Virginia-class submarines as part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 President’s budget request.
“Today’s announcement is a welcome reversal from the Department of Defense which, just eight months ago, publicly opposed my efforts to increase fast attack submarine construction to three per year. This decision to finally accede to the demands of our combatant commanders and the work of the House Seapower Subcommittee sets out important work ahead for our subcommittee and the entire Congress to fulfill this request.
“One of the most persistent messages that the House Armed Services Committee has heard over the last several years from our combatant commanders stationed around the world is that they do not have enough submarines at a time when demand for presence in the undersea realm continues to grow. Near-peers like Russia and China are modernizing their submarine fleets while China is simultaneously growing its submarine force to an estimated 70 boats by 2020. Demand to grow our own submarine fleet was confirmed in the 2016 Force Structure Assessment which stated, following rigorous evaluation, that the Navy’s requirement for attack submarines would grow from 48 to 66 – the largest increase of any ship type. Yet, at the same time, this portion of our fleet will face the deepest and most prolonged shortfall from its requirement for the next three decades. I am proud that the Seapower subcommittee has responded to these demands over the last two years by providing DOD with multiyear procurement authority to increase submarine production to as high as three per year and authorizing funds to do the same.
“The Department’s decision today is welcome, albeit overdue, recognition that our submarine force is too small and heading in the wrong direction. It is critical that we increase submarine production this year to set our Navy on the right path to meeting the needs of our commanders around the world. I am prepared to do everything in my power as Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee to ensure that this proposal from DOD is authorized, appropriated, and signed into law.”
Background on Chairman Courtney’s Years-Long Push to Increase Virginia-class Submarine Construction to Three Per Year:
- In December 2016, the Navy released a Force Structure Assessment (FSA) which increased the attack submarine requirement from 48 to 66. Upon the release of the FSA, Courtney stated that the assessment “makes sustaining the two a year build rate as we also build the Columbia-class SSBN a national imperative, while also taking advantage of every possible opportunity to add to that build rate.”
- In June 2017, the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, of which Courtney was the Ranking Member, included multiyear procurement authority for up to thirteen submarines in the next five-year Virginia-class block contract in its initial draft of the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This language allowed the procurement of as many as three submarines per year between FY 2019-2023. This language was included in the final FY18 NDAA and sign into law in December 2017.
- In July 2017, Courtney offered an amendment to the FY 2018 defense appropriations bill on the House floor to mirror the FY 2018 NDAA language and specifically authorized procure of up to thirteen Virginia-class in the next five-year block contract covering FY 2019-2023. The amendment was adopted into the House bill. In January 2018, Courtney led a letter to House appropriators to ensure the authority’s inclusion in a final conference report and the language was successfully included in the FY18 Omnibus spending bill which was signed into law in March 2018.
- In April 2018, the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, of which Courtney was the Ranking Member, included in its initial draft of the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorized funding levels necessary to increase Virginia-class submarine construction to three per year. Those funding levels also passed the full House in May 2018. The final FY 2019 NDAA, which was signed into law in August 2018, ultimately included language which originated in the House Seapower subcommittee requiring the next block contract to include priced options to increase production to three per year in certain years of the next five-year block contract covering FY 2019-2023.
- In June 2018, Courtney led a bipartisan group of 23 members in offering an amendment on the House floor to the FY 2019 defense appropriations bill to provide funding to increase Virginia-class submarine construction to three per year in certain years of the next five-year block contract covering FY 2019-2023.
- In December 2018, Courtney joined in Seapower Subcommittee Chairman Rob Wittman in a letter to former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis urging him to request funding sufficient to increase submarine construction to three per year in the FY 2020 DOD budget request.