A draft of the Navy's five-year construction program calls for the continued building of one Virginia-class submarine a year, despite pressure from Connecticut
's congressional delegation to boost production to at least two subs annually. The draft report calls for an overall $69 billion construction budget for the Navy through
fiscal year 2011, including nearly $16 billion for five new subs, which are being jointly built by the Groton-based Electric Boat shipyard and the Northrop Grumman Newport News yard in Virginia. In addition, the draft report reportedly calls for a total of 51 new ships during the five-year timeframe, including a new aircraft carrier, new DD(X) destroyers and littoral combat ships for close-to-shore operations and the additional Virginia-class subs.
The 10-boat Virginia class
of submarines is the successor to the much smaller Seawolf class, which only produced three submarines. The Virginia class was developed to be less expensive than the Seawolf and was built to handle post-Cold War sub missions, including special operations and surveillance. The 560-foot-long boats are larger than the Los Angeles-class submarines and have a price tag of about $2.4 billion each.
The Navy has remained firm on backing its one-boat production rate through the end of fiscal year 2011, although earlier plans had called for a two-boat production rate starting in fiscal year 2009. The federal fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.
This past December, congressional insiders said they expected the Navy to maintain a future fleet of 313 ships, which would include 48 submarines. The current 288-ship fleet is about half the size it was three decades ago.