There’s Nothing the U.S. Navy Can Do to Avoid a Submarine Gap | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

There’s Nothing the U.S. Navy Can Do to Avoid a Submarine Gap

In 2018, the U.S. Navy has finally begun to come to terms with a long-term problem that has been decades in the making.

The fleet has too few attack submarines. And arresting the growing shortfall — never mind reversing it — could prove too expensive.

The Navy needs 66 nuclear-powered attack and guided-missile submarines according to a 2016 assessment by then-Navy secretary Ray Mabus. But in mid-2018 the sailing branch possessed just 56 attack and guided-missile boats — SSNs and SSGNs, respectively, in Navy parlance.

The current force includes 13 Virginia-class vessels, 36 boats of the Los Angeles class, three Seawolfs and four former Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines that, in the early 2000s, the Navy converted into SSGNs carrying non-nuclear Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Despite the Navy purchasing two new Virginias every year on average since 2012, the 10-sub gap is likely to widen in the 2020s as older Los Angeles boats, which the Navy bought at high rates during the 1980s and 1990s, reach the end of their useful service lives.