The U.S. Navy is optimistic that the submarine-industrial base will be able to deliver attack submarines on schedule by 2028. This comes after years of struggling to keep up with the growing demand, worsened by the pandemic and its impact on the labor market. The Navy plans to invest an additional $6.3 billion to bolster the submarine-industrial base and increase the size of the attack sub fleet by the early 2030s.
To assess the progress made so far, the Navy spent $2.3 billion from 2018 to 2023 on various initiatives to strengthen the submarine-industrial base. These initiatives include supplier development, boosting production capacity, developing new suppliers, and addressing areas where there is increased demand.
For example, one company, Scot Forge, received over $20 million to purchase more production equipment, resulting in a 100% increase in capacity and a 30% cost reduction. The Navy plans to infuse around $70 million into the raw material market this fiscal year to keep submarine construction on track.
Another area of focus is shipyard infrastructure. General Dynamics Electric Boat and HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding are expected to ramp up their production to meet the demand. Newport News Shipbuilding is making $1.9 billion in capital investments to accelerate submarine production, and the Navy is providing additional support for facilities and equipment.
Strategic outsourcing is also being considered, with the Navy looking to move some large-scale steel fabrication and other heavy manufacturing work to other locations. Austal USA shipyard has already begun building steel modules for the Virginia submarine program. The Navy plans to formalize this work and create a dedicated submarine fabrication facility at Austal USA.
The submarine-industrial base is also focusing on workforce development and investing in technologies that can improve work processes, such as automated welding, robotics, and additive manufacturing.
The investments made in the submarine-industrial base so far have shown positive results. Over 200 suppliers in 31 states have increased their capacity by 10% to 50%. Additionally, millions of hours of work have been moved out of primary shipyards to ease production pressure, and thousands of workers have been trained through workforce training programs.
Overall, the U.S. Navy is confident that the investments in the submarine-industrial base will ensure the timely delivery of submarines and support the AUKUS trilateral pact between the U.S., U.K., and Australia.
Sources: Defense News