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Struggles continue for US Navy to meet submarine-building requirements, commitments

Columbia-class submarine construction remains a Pentagon priority. (US Navy)

The US Navy (USN) has continued to face difficulties in delivering Virginia-class attack submarines (SSNs), maintaining existing vessels, and gearing up for the construction and delivery schedule for the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) meant to replace the Ohio-class boats for the US fleets.

Meeting the requirements for the trinational Australian, UK, and US (AUKUS) agreement to bolster the Australian submarine fleet will likely mean a dip in the US submarine fleet below its future goals and needs, according to a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

“There's a lot of talk around AUKUS, and obviously we're going to do everything we can to support our customer in that regard, but the fact is this supply chain still remains very fragile,” Jason Aiken, executive vice-president and chief financial officer for General Dynamics (GD), whose Electric Boat division is one of the two countries' two submarine builders for Virginias and Columbias, told investment analysts on 25 October during a quarterly earnings call.

“We've got a lot of work to do to get this whole industry back to, from a submarine perspective, two [Virginia-class submarines] per year,” he said. We've got to get to that point on Virginia while delivering Columbias, and I think “that's our focus today, to get to that two-per-year-plus Columbia, and then we'll look to AUKUS beyond that”.

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