SSBN(X) Cost Est. Soars To $8.2B

SSBN(X) Cost Est. Soars To $8.2B

The Congressional Budget Office is out with a new estimate of the Navy’s latest 30-year shipbuilding plan, issued in February. While that new plan reduces the total number of ships purchased between 2011 and 2040, and thus shipbuilding costs, CBO says the annual price tag is still much higher than the total shipbuilding funds the Navy has received in recent years.

The Navy’s new plan calls for buying 276 ships between now and 2040; the previous 30 year plan called for 296 new ships. Still, with the annual shipbuilding budget at around $15 billion (the average for the past three decades), the Navy can’t afford to buy all of those ships, CBO said.

CBO puts the annual shipbuilding price tag at around $19 billion versus the Navy’s projections of around $16 billion. If the costs to refuel aircraft carriers is included, the cost to buy and outfit new ships rises to about $21 billion a year.

Included in CBO’s projection is the cost to build a new class of ballistic missile submarines, the SSBN(X). The Navy estimates that building 12 SSBN(X)s will cost $86 billion, which is about $7.2 billion a copy. Based on the historical track record for building subs, CBO estimates it will cost $99 billion to build 12 boomers, at $8.2 billion a copy. Given what Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Navy League, it will be very interesting to see what the Navy starts to say about the affordability and size of its new boomer fleet.

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systems cost too much $$. back to the drawing board people. next time please advocate realistic, executable concepts, based on INCREMENTAL improvements in systems and zero tolerance for requirements growth and cost overruns. leave the high tech high risk high reward projects to DARPA.

The TRIDENTS came in around 6 during the 80’s and 90’s so inflation hasn’t hit them as hard as aircraft and LCS, but since I have not seen what is entailed in the SSBNX it is hard to determine if it is extream or not. Considering the warhead limitations now in place the missiles could be smaller allowing for a smaller platform as well which could reduce the costs greatly, but until the plans are available it is just too hard to tell. Knowing the brass, they have most likely made it even bigger than a TRIDENT, modular, male,female and homosexual compatable as well and would make it more expensive.

Good Morning Folks,

The much expected CBO report has landed with the expected thud. The SSBN(X) is the first item to be thrown to the wolves. Information from other sources indicated there may be a smoke screen here. It appears the the next generation of SSBN(X)‘s will not be twelve but either eight or nine, with 16 launch tubes rather then the current 24.

I know Boomer will have an instant bowel movement over the above paragraph and will come up with a dozen or more reasons why we need more and of course its all because women now are on subs, but the above seems to appears to be reality.

Some of the reductions come from the new treaty and some from technology. The next generation of SSBN’s most likely will be smaller boats with a somewhat smaller crew. Look for the development of a smaller SLBM for the new hulls. The Virginia Class SSN now seems to be the go to SSN till mid century.

Also in the report that Greg cites, is finally the official elimination or any plans for the development and construction of a CG(X) or a CGN(X) other expected reductions will be in the number of LHD’s and LPD’s, currently there are eleven planned, the new number could be around eight each.

In Naval air look for a reduction of Carrier Air Groups from the current, active and reserve from eleven to nine. Also it appears that BRAC will be back. Look for consolidation of bases for Naval and Marine Air and the loss of at least three sea bases for the Navy. What bases might go, look to the ones that haven’t had any recent new construction done.

The big change in Naval procurement will be long term fixed price contracts on major weapons/weapons platforms/ and defense systems for the Navy. Foreign purchasing will become an active option if American contractors can’t meet prices and delivery. No more LCS surprises.

Look for a lot of pi**ing on Guccis and blood on “K” Street in years in coming years as competing lobbyists fight over the crumbs of the DoD budget.

Want to become a millionaire get elected to Congress.

Byron Skinner

Time for a separate Nuclear Deterrent Agency to keep programs unique to the nuclear deterrent mission separate from service budget because they have a disparate impact on procurement. Then each and every year proponents and opponents of the “nuclear mission” can debate the merits of SSBN(X) or a potential Minuteman III replacement. Besides if we are going to downsize to 1550 warheads and 700 deployed launchers we better have state of the art systems second to no one or no nation.

Sorry — no movement here — I have expected them to be smaller for some time, the UK TRIDENTS only have 16 tubes, also for every SSBNX that is built a T hull has to go away or be converted to a SSGN to remain within treaty guidelines. Myself I would like to see more SSGN’s out there, Contemplating if you have 100 SEALS and 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles possibly sitting off your coastline somewhere is a deterrent in it’s own, would be even more so if those T hawks were new SSGN specific models that are larger with longer range and more payload and possibly a nuke warhead version as well would add to the worries.

$8.2 billion a pop eh? Jeez, I guess that’s what happens when you gut your industrial base and stretch things out as long as possible to boot.

Very true, and the SSBN fleet is the cornerstone of our nuclear arsenal, we can’t afford to lose it.

Good Evening Folks,

I’m going to give some numbers, and I know someone will find different ones, big deal these are simply generalizations to illustrate a point.

These numbers are as of 5/20/10 Ships currently active in the USN 248, not counting the small boats fleet that is not self deploying, service craft such as dry docks, tugs and barges etc. The Hurricane class that falls somewhere in between self deploying and non self deploying are counted as USCG vessels, although some have been brought back into Navy service.

Number of USNS ship in active service 72. These are the Combat Stores Ships, Oilers, Roll On, Roll Offs etc.

Ships in the reserve fleet. 264. The availability and serviceability of these hulls are unknown, this is the USN’s “official count”.

Number of Trident’s currently in service 240. Under the new arms limitation treaty the number will be 190. The assumption is that the deployed Tridents have a single warhead and not be MIRVed for the purposes of counting.

I agree with Boomer on the SSGN’s and I would not be surprised to see four more Ohio’s be converted soon.

Other numbers include:

Minuteman III Currently 420, under new treaty 390

B-2’s 16 of 19 are nuclear, 3 are for conventional use and one is a trainer,

B-52’s 44 or 76 currently active are for the nuclear mission.

Note: Each bomber is counted as a single nuclear device although they can carry multiple weapons. There is now way to count what ifs.

Nuclear devices of all kinds Currently 5,551 Under treaty 1,550

Delivery platforms/vehicles currently 720, Under treaty 700

The US will have no nuclear Cruise Missiles, and currently doesn’t have, and doesn’t expect to make in the future short, medium, intermediate or long range nuclear armed ballistic missiles.

Byron Skinner

I agree there will be no T HAWK Alpha because everyone is afraid of it, it is really BS because we never should have given up the only weapon that everyone was complaining about giving us an unfair advantage. No one else had to give up thier nuke cruise missiles. But you have to agree they could easily come up with a larger more advanced TOMAHAWK given the enormous size of a T HULL launch tube and this advanced capability would increase the pucker factor of anyone contemplating opposing us. They should also replace the conventional warhead with thermite warheads to create a more lethal weapon for all to fear. I would also like to see them go foward with an improved version of the MOAB for the AIRFORCE — yeah it is big but it makes one heck of a bang and crater (good way to make a man made lake to improve the eco system in dry areas).

That’s right ! Are these SSBNs good for fighting Taliban? Can they save the U.S from going bankrupt ? Afraid of China,Russia? Do you feel more secuirity? Freaks

Good Morning Boomer,

The simple truth about Cruise Missiles are that they are not that effective as a weapon. I think it’s the Block VI TLAM’s will have the ability to be retargeted in flight and loiter a target but its still a sub-sonic weapon that can and has bee brought down by ground fire.

The newer Naval Cruise Missile developed by L-3 the LCCM has been sitting on the shelf for years waiting for the Navy to buy. It might find a home on the LCS?

On warheads I think you were referring to a fuel/air/light metal device such as the “M” warheads found in the Army’s M-31’s and air dropped GBU’s. The TLAM traditionally has had either a single HE/Comp B warhead or CBU warheads. The Thermite Warhead is an incendiary weapon it been around since WW I.

The only logical use I can see for MOHB is to clear an LZ or FSB rather quickly in a dense forest or jungle. Like the old Daisy Cutter of yo.

Byron Skinner

Yeah but remeber I’m a bit harder than you like because I would have no issue carpet bombing a city with MOAB’s before sending in our troops. I know you think that is cold but I’m more concerned with one of our mom’s or dad’s being able to come back home to thier kids than the ones we were sent to fight. The air fuel warhead as you metioned would work fine, I do like thermites as well though, work real good at setting buildings and such on fire. I cant speak for all cruise missiles but the T hawk was very effective during desert shield, Iraq never knew when they were coming and many — many more hit target than was lost, it was key in demoralizing them because they could not protect themselves from it. the reason they were used in such small numbers this time around was because we had not built our supply back up from the first gulf war and they were scarce as hell.

Hmmmm, we need a replacement for the Ohio-class. The Brits needs a replacement for the Vanguard-class. The French will need a replacement for the Triomphant eventually.…

How many more Ponzi schemes and AAA rated financial toxic products are needed to finance this project ? The whole world has had bad experiences with them already. It is a very slow sell I think.

So we should lose our strategic nuclear deterrent? Brilliant thinking. And yes I do feel “more security” trusting in MAD than Obama’s “no nukes” vision.

For sure. Much better to spend money on “shovel ready” jobs, entitlements, and anything else that will buy a vote for the Democratic Party.

We can significantly lower the price of a SSBN replacement in several ways.
1. Use virtually all of the existing Viginia class equipment. Reactor, sensors, etc. Just fit it in a bigger hull. That will also lower the per unit cost for the Virginia Class. If it will work, do it. Only use specific equipment when you need it (like strategic comm equipment)
2. Re-use the Trident D-5 missile, maybe updated with new electronics but the missile is accurate and reliable. Better is the worst enemy of good enough. Reduce to 16 missile tubes per boat.
3. Buy 10. That should be enough to keep 8 at sea, how many do we really need? Or better yet, buy 14 and go to single crews, that would keep roughly 6–7 at sea, reduce manning and training, and still be enough. Enough is enough.
4. Don’t let better (and more expensive) rule the day.
Think George Washington (Skipjack with SLBM tubes) and not Ohio (24 tubes, new reactor, new hull, new sensors, etc)

Take a look at Vietnam which has shared the border with China for 5000 years and it does not have 11 CBG’s, SSBN’s.Does it make noise like the coward chicken **** U.S.A ?Have no fear. Fear makes men behave just like women when they have periods. China doesn’t have gigantic defense budget like the American one, but still good enough to deter criminals. You know that the global economy is not in good shape and there are plentiful of desperate people out there. Desperate people will do desperate things especially when they have criminal background for centuries. By taking advantage of China’s openness, some came to China with a business plan on one hand and drugs on the other (luckily they got caught and executed), some might come with a bible on one hand, talking about love and Jesus and advanced AAA rated toxic CDO’s on the other. Chinese Armed forces are there for the criminals to see that they have to think before committing crimes and that they can run but they can not hide.

I for one is against war but I believe in self defense. For defense and for any future threat, I do believe we need to make more fast– modern unmanned, long distance missile/ torpedo boats like the chinese catamaran missile boats instead of ships.

William C. no one said anything about losing our strategic nuclear deterrent. What I advocate for is lesss costly systems that actually cost what they were estimated for when they were “sold” to the taxpayers. Is your brain capable of understanding this?

Hell, why not just make more Ohios? Going with a variant of the Virginia’s would be a no-go unless you wanted a giant humpback like the Detla SSBNs (kluges if ever there was one, and noisy as hell to boot). If they want to keep costs reasonable then compress the developement program, lay out a funding schedule for say 24 multipurpose missile carriers (install a VLS that could carry either D-5 analogs, TLAMs, IRBMs, or what have you) AND THEN STICK TO IT. Stretching schedules and jacking the funding around is what causes costs to explode. Avoid feature-creep as well. If some paper-pusher just HAS to have a new bell or whistle save it for the first major overhaul. Also, resist the urge to push the bleeding edge in every way possible. It doesn’t need a godamn holodeck or quantum communications. Bring it up to date in a way that makes sense but don’t slit your throat right out of the gate by demanding MHD propulsion or some other technology that would take billions all by itself to develop.

As the saying goes, “if you desire peace, prepare for war”. Who gets harrassed less on the street, the 98lb emo or the 240lb guy that looks like he could crush rocks with his hands and would love to make you bleed as painfully as possible?

You’re already the undisputed 240 lb rock crusher of the neighborhood. So why do ya also need to have half a dozen high ticket rottweillers and a minigun to feel safe? Are you really that frightened of the local mouse population?

The Cold War is over and the Yellow Peril is not gonna try to enslave you with pricey weapons when it’s so much easier and more profitable to do it with the yuan…


Sir, you need to work on your English. But please study the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction. Living in a fantasy world like those Brits who want to cut their remaining nuclear arsenal will only make the United States weaker.

We should have cruise missiles with nuclear warheads simply in case somebody thinks they can get away with a “tactical” nuclear strike. It is either that or we state a new policy. If one of those new Chinese ballistic missiles hits a CBG for example, we respond as if an American city has been hit.

Correction, you WERE the 240lb rock crusher but you haven’t been to te gym in years, have been living on a diet of Haagan Daz, and can’t be bothered to move from in front of the TV. Moreover you think that just because you you won the match twenty years ago that you can rest on you laurals and pretend nobody else is in training because, you know, “the Cold War is over” which means it’s lollipops and unicorns for all and anybody who thinks otherwise is a tea-bagging, right wing, redneck, who lacks education and a “progressive perspective”.

I sure hope that your mommy keeps the knives and forks out of reach of your little clutches,

You know… just in case one of the neighborhood kids looks at you funny.


Good Morning Boomer,

I really doubt if your a bit harder them I am, but that’s not the issue here. I have no problem with carpet bombing and large 2K Lb. HE bombs, the issue is that they don’t do anything. I remember doing sweeps through the are of B-52 carpet bombing raids. We didn’t find any evidence that any enemy or for that matter collaterals (as we now call “civilians”) were killed. A lot of jungle was creatored, which I guess have become fishing holes for the peasants but that was the extent of damage Boomer.

If your definition of fire power is weapons killing the enemy, then these raids were a bust. The cost of four B-52, a typical carpet bombing strike package at the time, full of 500 lb. HE bombs just wasted, that a lot of pocket change Bomber.

On bombing urban areas either with HE’s or Thermite, only if it produce the desired results. The fire bombings in both the Pacific and in Europe in WW II not only killed a lot of people but findings after the war showed they had a devastating effect on the enemies moral. I’m sure that saved more then a few American lives. The down side is of course Uncle Sugar gets stuck with paying the tab for rebuilding.

About the only insightful thing to be uttered by General Colin Powell is the “Pottery Barn Doctrine”, “You broke it, you bought it.”

Byron Skinner

Your not going to be able to build a new SSBN for the same price as an Ohio class back in the 1980s. Trying to adapt an attack submarine to carry a handful or SLBMs (which may not even be possible with the Trident D5) results in a rather flawed design. Is your brain capable of understanding that? A smaller nuclear arsenal means the nukes we have need to be survivable, accurate, and powerful. Meaning the Minuteman III is also going to need a replacement in the coming decades which you also won’t want to pay for.

Go back to bed if you mentally incapable of comprehending the issue here kid.

OK I read a litle bit about this so now I’m a bit more informed. I can accept your argument that modifying Virginia class attack subs might not be the optimal solution for SLBMs. OK so now about the Ohios.. I’ve read that the unit costs were about $2B in the 80s-90s when they were last built. There is no reason why a replacement should cost $6-$8B @. Get a grip. If they did proper Systems Engineering and Acquisition Strategy, we should be able to have an acceptable form-fit-function replacement design, and a Firm Fixed Price Contract for replacements at $3B. After all, DoD plans for Learning Curve Improvements and certainly you Industry people are more productive than they were in the 80s-90s, since you have better computers, software tools, and all those lessons learned right?

hahaha .…‘homosexual’ compatible, what about ‘bi-sexual’ compatible? These crews go out with the intention of incinerating hundreds of millions of people. I guess that it is important that they do it in a completely politically correct way.

Wasn’t meaning to use the Virginias hull, just the systems. In fact, I think the Ohio hull cross section would be fine, especially since we know it works. But if you use as much of the Virginia components as possible, you can save a fortune by increasing numbers of the same type of reactor, reduced training development, more efficient training throughput, etc not to mention the benefits of commonality.


Vietnam has similar political views as China, and lack any notable deposits of oil or other valuable resources, so they don’t have to fear an attack.

Using it as an example is like saying that the USA doesn’t have to worry about an attack by Canada. It’s got so many major reasons that an attack won’t happen that the MAD aspect doesn’t even factor into the equation.

And it’s not just Russia / China that the MAD aspect applies to. It’s also rising extremist dictators who might be willing to use a nuke, or give a nuke to a third party to use (Iran, North Korea)
The threat that the USA would stick a nuke down their throat in retaliation is a big deterrent.

And let’s not forget that two small, militarily weak countries nearly brought the world to defeat in WW2. (The British Navy had 255 warships, Germany had 35, and only 22 ‘war-ready’ U-boats at the start of the war. Yet look what they did.)
To ignore the threat posed by any potentially hostile country (including ‘less-likely to attack’ countries like Russia and China) is folly. You can’t get rid of the military, or destroy it’s capacity to operate just because of a national debt.

Instead, what needs to be done is smarter spending. Rather than waste so much money, they need to look at what things are costing them, and whether they’re really getting a good deal.

And I’m not just talking about military spending. I’m talking everything, from new buildings to roads, government departments.
An example is of wasted spending is in a recent addition in Brisbane city (Australia) of a bike network around the CBD. The cost of construction is 8 million dollars per Kilometre. They claim that that amount includes the design of it, and signage etc, and that ACTUAL costs of building (materials and labour) works out to 1.8 million per km.
But even with the 1.8m figure, that’s still grossly expensive, and I would be questioning (if in power) who signed off on that sort of bill and why. Cause you can sure as heck get good quality construction for cheaper than that.

The other advantage that the fire bombing of WW2 had over modern day combat is that a) the media were censored by the military so they couldn’t print articles or show video recordings that would demoralise the population, or turn them against the war. And b) the populace of London had been bombed, so there were a lot less people crying “Oh no, you’re killing civilians! How DARE you!” and a lot more crying “REVENGE!”

The human rights activists have played a large part in the rising casualty numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their bleating has created the restrictive ROE’s where soldiers can’t fire upon armed people unless fired upon. Their crying has added to the number of videos showing ‘civilians’ being fired upon, or reporting on civilians killed in strikes.… while ignoring the fact that some of those ‘civilians’ were holding weapons, or had links to the insurgency.

While it would certainly save costs to scrap a lot of these high end, precision weapons systems and just go to an all out carpet bombing offensive using fuel air bombs, you’d first have to scrap all human rights activists, and keep the media out of the war as well. Otherwise, you’d be starting more fires of opposition in your country than you would be starting on the ground.

As a retired submariner, I can see most of Boomer’s points. And I can see other points posted here as well. But just remember what Admiral Rickover said Congress when asked him if they should fund more surface ships or more submarines, he said “Surface ships can only dive once, Senator”.

‘Nuff said!

Peace through superior fire power. The rule since the firepower was stone ax.


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