Greenert's Final Navigation Plan Prioritizes Nuclear Submarines

The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Wyoming (SSBN 742) approaches Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia. (U.S. Navy photo)
The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Wyoming (SSBN 742) approaches Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia. (U.S. Navy photo)

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert has released his final CNO Navigation Plan that listed maintaining the service's current nuclear-armed submarine fleet and building a next generation nuclear submarine as the service's top priority.

This years' CNO Navigation plan will be the last one issued by Greenert who is slated to step down in September of this year. Greenert has served as CNO since 2011. 

The plan released Monday specifies a list of six Navy investment priorities including maintaining the Navy's sea-based deterrence, sustaining forward presence, developing force capability, focusing on force readiness, enhancing asymmetric capabilities in all domains and sustaining the shipbuilding industrial base.

"The plan highlights key investments that supports national strategic missions. Each investment mission and function outlined in the plan underscores the CNO's three tenets -- warfighting first, operate forward and be ready," said Navy spokesman Lt. Tim Hawkins.

The sea-based deterrence effort, emerging as the top priority, involves maintaining the current fleet of 14 Ohio-class nuclear armed submarines and finding funds to replace them with a new, quieter Ohio Replacement submarine slated to arrive by 2031.

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The emphasis upon asymmetric warfare includes a focus on cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum.

Some highlights of the plan support for the delivery of the Navy's first Ford-class aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford. The formal arrival of the Ford, slated to take place in 2016, will restore the Navy's carrier fleet back to 11, the plan explains. The program has been criticized for schedule slips and billions in cost overruns from lawmakers and government watchdog groups.  

The Navigation plan also calls for the procurement of 10 Arleigh-Burke-class destroyers, or DDGS, at a rate of two per year. This will bring the inventory up to 72 by 2020, the plan states.  Part of this effort includes a formal request for the first high-tech Flight III DDGs -- destroyers being engineered with a much more powerful radar system called AN/SPY-6 radar.

Other surface ship priorities mentioned in the plan include efforts to continue expanding the role of the Joint High Speed Vessel, starting the replacement of the Navy's fleet of Dock Landing Ships with the new LXR program by 2020, and funding nine more Littoral Combat Ships at a rate of three per year through 2018.

The Navy will also begin acquiring its new Small Surface Combatants, called Frigates, by 2019. These new ships are designed to create a new, more survivable and lethal variant of the LCS, Navy officials have said.

The Navy also hopes to bring its fleet of SSN Virginia-class attack submarines up to 22 by 2020 as well, according to the plan. Beginning in 2019, the Virginia-class submarines will be engineered with what's called the Virginia Payload Module, an extension to the ship which enable the boats to carry 28 additional Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The Navy also plans to procure as many as 24 new Navy-specific V-22 Osprey aircraft to replace the existing C-2 Carrier Onboard Delivery, or COD, aircraft. Use of the Osprey for COD missions will extend range and flexibility of the mission, the report states.

The Navigation plan says the service will remain on course to have its carrier-based variant of the F-35 operational by 2018 and its new Next-Generation Jammer ready by 2021.

Continued development of an over-the-horizon cruise missile defense technology, called Naval Integrate Fire Control-Counter Air, is also emphasized in report.

-- Kris Osborn can be reached at kris.osborn@military.com

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