In early May, I
relieved RADM(Sel) Tracy as the Director of Submarine Warfare (N77) and
wish him fair winds and following seas in his new job as Commander, USS Harry
S. Truman Strike Group.
During this time of
dynamic change in our Submarine Force, I am privileged to be serving as our
community’s resource sponsor. I am pleased to report to you that things are
going very well for the Submarine Force as we work within the Pentagon to
ensure we remain a valuable asset in America’s warfighting arsenal for
years to come.
As I begin my tenure in
this position, I envision my job here with these tasks in mind:
- Drive execution of the
current year’s fiscal budget.
- Coordinate with the type
commanders to develop the Submarine Force’s inputs to the POM process.
- Actively participate in the
Pentagon analytical processes, such as campaign analysis and the
development of integrated capabilities.
During this, the Year
of the Submarine, we have had the opportunity to demonstrate the importance
of integration with other fleet assets and the unique flexibility
submarines provide. You can be proud of the fact that we provided a
considerable share of the Navy’s combat force during SUMMER PULSE ’04. Ten
submarines demonstrated surge capability as they were deployed in four AORs
supporting Carrier Strike Groups and other operations and exercises in the
first application of the Fleet Response Plan.
In addition to
demonstrating to senior leadership the impressive surge capability of our
current Submarine Force, 2004 will be remembered as a seminal one in the
progression of our future force.
The most important
development will be the commissioning in October of the first submarine
designed from the start for the post-Cold War environment, when we face
asymmetrical threats from the Global War on Terrorism and beyond. Virginia,
underway on sea trials as this issue goes to press, represents a dramatic
shift in operational capabilities and an unprecedented ability to operate
in the littorals. I had the privilege of briefing Vice-President Cheney in
person on the potential this new class brings to the fleet prior to his
tour of New London and Virginia. The use of mission modules in Virginia
has the potential to improve the capabilities of future submarines. Several
studies have explored design options to provide modular payload volume in
future ships. These options have ranged from relatively minor modifications
to the current Virginia configuration to an evolution toward
submarines outfitted with completely modular payload capacity.
In addition to the
upcoming commissioning of Virginia, we already have witnessed this
year the stand-up of CSS-19, the start of conversion on three of four
ballistic missile submarines scheduled to become SSGNs, the christening of Jimmy
Carter and Texas, and the keel laying of North Carolina
and Hawaii. We also will commemorate in September the 50th
anniversary of the commissioning of Nautilus and the dawn of the undersea
As we bring these new
tools online, I want to express my appreciation for the outstanding support
our force continues to receive from our maintenance facilities and our
partners in industry in bringing these technological advancements to the
fleet and making them a reality. However, as the battlespace shifts to the
littorals and we face the ambiguous but dangerous threats of the 21st
Century, we need more than just new technology. Meeting the surge
capability requirements of the present and building a foundation of
undersea dominance in the littorals requires all of us to rededicate our efforts
to remain the highly trained and motivated force we have always been. It
takes the efforts of those on watch under the sea to make the compelling
case that inherently, submarines are crucial to the defense of freedom now
and in the future.
RDML Joseph A. Walsh, USN
Director, Submarine Warfare