image of RDML Bruce Grooms  “Greetings from our Nation’s Capital. The busiest time of year is upon us here in Washington as the three concurrent budget cycles progress at full speed. Additionally, “hearing” season on Capitol Hill is underway as we try to justify our budget to Congress. Finally, we are preparing for a leadership change here in the Submarine Warfare Division of the CNO’s staff.”
RDML Bruce Grooms, USN, Director, Submarine Warfare

Let me take a moment to describe the three concurrent budget cycles consuming our efforts. First, we are executing the Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 Budget that was approved by Congress last fall. The N87 team is ensuring the money programmed for this fiscal year (1 October to 30 September) is spent according to plan. The second budget cycle is the FY09 President’s Budget request that was submitted to Congress on 4 February and is slated to be approved this fall for the next fiscal year. The CNO, SecNav, and several others will testify this spring in support of the requests submitted in this budget. The third budget currently under development programs money for 2010 and beyond. While it may seem that planning budgets years in advance would alleviate most of the obstacles to approval well before the end game, the process can sometimes present its own unique challenges. Every decision along the way has consequences and outcomes that are inextricably interrelated across several budget cycles. However, at the end of the day, this complex process yields a budget driven by military requirements.

Arriving here as a RDML (sel) for this D.C. tour, I learned first hand just how foreign the budgetary lexicon and processes can be. As I look back on my 13 months here I will always remember the many achievements of the N87 staff and the D.C. submarine community. Throughout my time on the OPNAV staff, I learned the true rewards of a D.C tour are working with some of the finest people in our Submarine Force, Navy, and military. Despite the fiscal challenges encountered inside the beltway, I am encouraged that our system ultimately provides awesome warfighting capabilities to our forces on the waterfront. As I leave my post here in D.C. and welcome RADM Cecil Haney to the job as Director, Submarine Warfare, I have the distinct privilege of fulfilling many a Pentagon daydream—to return to operational command. I look forward to seeing you back on the waterfront as I head to Groton in my new post as Commander, Submarine Group TWO.

This issue chronicles the life of the SSGN program, from idea inception to interviews with the individuals leading the first boats on their maiden deployments. USS Ohio (SSGN-726), which recently completed her second forward deployed SSGN crew-swap, continues to pioneer the validation of the dual-crew concept for SSGN. Re-delivery of the fourth and final SSGN, USS Georgia (SSGN-729), in December 2007 by no means signaled the end of interest in the platform as a centerpiece of national defense. Rather, the program’s ‘on time, on budget’ mantra have kept it in the forefront with lawmakers and policymakers as Ohio continues on its maiden deployment.

Complementing the good news story of the SSGN program, we delivered the fourth Virginia-class SSN on 21 February 2008. USS North Carolina (SSN-777) successfully completed the first block of Virginia-class deliveries. All of the Block II ships are under construction, with the names of the 7th–9th ships recently announced; Missouri (SSN-780), California (SSN-781), and Mississippi (SSN-782). In February we also issued a request for proposals on the third block of Virginia, and expect to secure the contract for this 8-submarine, five-year procurement contract this fall for the 11th–18th ships of the Virginia-class.

As I close for the final time and reflect on my time as Director, Submarine Warfare, the job challenges faced during a Washington tour are always exceeded by the quality of the people with whom you serve. I encourage all officers to undertake such a D.C assignment sometime during their careers. I look forward to serving with you in the future.

For our N87 staff, I wish farewell to the recently departed: LCDR Corey Thompson, YNC Mark Kroll, LT Jon Ahlstrom, CDR Dean Nilsen, LCDR Mike Nikolich, and Mrs. Ruth Holtzman, who served faithfully for over 15 years. Thank you for your tireless dedication and service. Fair winds and following seas.

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