Greetings from our Nation’s Capital! It is truly an exciting time to be a submariner. Our acquisition programs are setting the standard for excellence across the Navy, our platforms are exceeding the Combatant Commanders’ call for mission performance, and our force of Sailors and civilians are finding new and innovative ways to meet the demands of an ever changing world. These are truly exciting times in the Submarine Force!
Inside the beltway, Congress is still working on finishing the first defense budget for the new administration. Fiscal year 2010 defense appropriations legislation started on 1 October under a continuing resolution, a short-term measure that extends funding levels from the previous year. The continuing resolution will expire on 18 December. Meanwhile, fiscal year 2010 defense authorization legislation concluded when the President signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law on 28 October. This legislation contained some significant authorizations: a 3.4-percent pay raise, 0.5 percent above the original budget request; full funding for the Virginia-class, keeping the program on track to start two-per-year production in 2011; and full funding to support the first year of research and development for the Ohio replacement. I am very encouraged by how submarine programs fared in the NDAA and am hopeful of similar results as appropriations proceedings conclude.
The arrival of USS Hawaii (SSN-776) in Pearl Harbor on 23 July opened a whole new chapter in the history of our business. Our Submarine Force’s platform of the future is now in the theater with many of our future projected challenges. I am confident the Virginia-class is up to the test, as demonstrated by the operational performance of the commissioned boats. USS Virginia (SSN-774) is now deployed from Groton on the class’s first full six-month deployment. USS Hawaii will follow suit next year on the Virginia-class’s first full western Pacific deployment. USS Texas (SSN-775) recently completed the Arctic Follow-on Test and Evaluation events for the Virginia-class and will soon join Hawaii in the homeport of Pearl Harbor. This issue celebrates Hawaii’s arrival in Pearl Harbor and also features an interview with RADM Willy Hilarides, Program Executive Officer for Submarines, updating the Virginia-class program’s progress.
In his interview, RADM Hilarides also gives a quick update on our efforts to start the program to build the Ohio-class SSBN replacement. Commonly referred to as the sea-based strategic deterrent (SBSD), the program recently completed work on the Analysis of Alternatives (AoA). The AoA report findings will publish in the near future and provide rudder orders for our future efforts. Work now continues on cost estimating, technology planning, systems engineering, and key performance parameter (KPP) development to support the next major milestone next summer. In the meantime, Common Missile Compartment technical studies, “rest of ship” integration studies, and missile tube prototyping are ongoing.
We have a great team of both uniformed and civilian personnel performing critical work on the Ohio-class Replacement Program; they are dedicated people doing important, rewarding work. One of the most important members of our team, LT Adam Zaker, brings just a junior officer tour of experience with him from the good ship USS City of Corpus Christi (SSN-705). However, his energy and talent — mixed with the plethora of experience you would expect to find in D.C. — have proven the right formula for early success in the effort. On the inside back cover of this issue, Adam shares his experiences working on the Ohio Replacement Program, studying for an advanced degree, training for a marathon, and enjoying the tremendous opportunities available for D.C. area junior officers enjoying shore duty (Congratulations to Adam and the other N87 team members who finished the Marine Corps Marathon: CDR Todd Weeks, LT Joe Petrucelli, LT Jamie Cook, and LT Mike Horr.). I would recommend an OPNAV or D.C. shore tour to any junior officer seeking a challenging and rewarding experience.
For our N87 staff, I bid farewell to CAPT Andy Hale, CAPT Colin Chaffee, CAPT Fuzz Harrison, CDR Dave Soldow, CDR Neil Smith, and LT Brad Bozin. Good luck to CAPT Jeff Currer, LT Mike Horr, Mr. Bob Cepek, Mr. Angus Regier, Mr. Ken Minogue, and Mr. Tim Kline as they transfer to work for the new Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance.
I welcome aboard CDR Axel Spenz, CDR Marc Hone, CDR Warren Fridley, LCDR Kyle Lacy, LCDR Matthew Phelps, LT John Gonser, LT Pablo Viera, and Mr. Tom Nutter.
Finally, I want to thank all those in and out of uniform who support the Submarine Warfare Division. I know I can continue to count on your support.