(From the National Interest)
By Dave Majumdar
The United States Navy is reexamining how many nuclear attack submarines it will in need in the coming decades in light of a resurgent Russia and an increasingly hostile China. Both of those nations are rapidly building undersea fleets that are challenging the U.S. Navy’s ability to control the undersea domain.
Right now, the Navy has a standing requirement for forty-eight nuclear attack submarines—however, that number was set in 2006 when the international security situation was different. Faced with a Russia that is fielding advanced submarines and a China that is building a larger, but qualitatively inferior undersea fleet, forty-eight American attack submarines will not be enough.
“The security environment has changed a great deal since then, so I’ve commissioned a study to reassess that level this year,” Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 15.
Richardson points out, however, that during the 2020s the number of attack boats in the fleet will dip below even the current requirement—leaving the Navy with only forty-one attack submarines by 2029. “That’s got us very concerned,” Richardson said. “We’re about able to meet about 50 to 60 percent of combatant command demands right now—so it’s a very high demand asset.” Read more