Senate authorizers are in agreement with their House counterparts that creating a separate fund for building Ohio-class replacement submarines and developing unmanned underwater vehicles are a critical national security interest, according to a report accompanying the Senate's mark of the fiscal year 2015 defense authorization bill.
As for UUVs, the committee is "concerned" the Navy may not be able to develop the necessary capabilities to achieve its goal of deploying the "large-displacement" UUV squadron on independent missions by 2020. The Navy refers to the LDUUV as the large-diameter UUV.
"Further, the committee believes that budget constraints may further hamper the development of these critical capabilities," the report reads. "Particularly with respect to the LDUUV project, the committee encourages the Navy to take full advantage of existing expertise and infrastructure at the public shipyards."
Public shipyards may be able to assist with engineering, configuration management, acquisition support, technical problem solving, and operations and logistics support, including life-cycle maintenance and mission package support.
The committee directs the Navy to submit a report no later than Sept. 30, 2014, detailing how the service is using and plans to use the public shipyard infrastructure and expertise for UUV research, development, engineering, configuration management, acquisition support, technical problem solving, and operations and logistics support.
Inside the Navy reported in January 2013 that the Navy was saving money on how it was developing the LDUUV and that it may become a model for future acquisition programs. A traditional acquisition program could take 10 or more years and the service was able to shave off at least three years from the LDUUV program by having designers work to make sure engineering interfaces will work for the fleet, according to Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, chief of naval research.
Klunder sees the LDUUV acquisition program as being a model for programs that are "one click below" an aircraft carrier or an Ohio-class replacement submarine.