[Defense in Brief] U.S. Navy’s submarine submergence certification behind schedule, idling subs for as long as two years

Because successive congresses have refused to pass real budgets and instead have relied only on continuing resolutions [CRs] for years, the U.S. Navy’s submarine submergence certification schedule is out of whack, idling at least one sub — the USS Boise — for more than two years (31 months). Submarines must be certified that they can safely submerge and usually the Navy tries to make sure that certifications expire to coincide with a submarine’s regularly scheduled maintenance period. However, the CRs have thrown the schedule off, which forces submarines to sit idle waiting for re-certification. In the case of the USS Boise, the Navy does not have the dock space to conduct needed maintenance. Even though the Navy has instituted a certification plan, nine subs will sit idle for at least three months because they cannot operate without ensuring they can safely submerge. Extended CRs and additional budget cuts could put that plan in jeopardy, and 9 subs would be inoperative for ten months or more, says the House Armed Services Committee.

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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