tv Senate Armed Services Subcommittee Hearing on Shipbuilding CSPAN December 26, 2018 5:48pm-7:27pm EST
2019 budget request, which includes a proposed increase in shipbuilding rates but the goal of establishing a 355 ship fleet. the senate armed services the power subcommittee held this hour and a half hearing. >> the hearing will come to order. [inaudible] no it's not. i'm out of this. by agreement, we are going to
skip opening statements of the chair and ranking member until such time as senator around no arrives. but we will welcome our three distinguished panelists today. honorable james m. gertz, assistant secretary of the navy for research development and acquisition. vice admiral william armorers enable operations for warfare systems and lieutenant general berger, god of the marine corps for combat development and integration. gentleman come i understand you've drawn straws and one of you gets to make an opening statement. is that correct? >> yes, sir. we'll let you proceed and then we will take questions on a five minute basis and when my distinguished ranking member arrives, we may interject some statements for the record. you're recognized by
mr. secretary. >> chairman wicker, centered around on distinguished members of the subcommittee, thanks for the opportunity to appear before you today on the department of the navy shipbuilding plan. admiral bill merce, or where first systems and deputy commandant for combat systems development and integration. with your permission i like to provide a few brief remarks were three of us and submit a formal statement for the record. we would like to first thank congress for the timely enactment of the fiscal year 20 night teen dod budget. on-time enactment of the authorization appropriations for fy 2019 without a continuing resolution provides predictability critical as we built the navy the nation needs in support of the national defense strategy. finally, passage of the budget has enabled us to accelerate contract award, increase our
acquisition efficient tea and deliver per sailors and marines. additionally your continuing support of our maritime accelerated acquisition programs has provided much-needed agility within the budget cycle. through day-to-day interactions with the committees were able to quickly pursue your capability gaps against emerging threats. strategic environment continues to be a more dynamic increase in its uncertainty and sophistication. proliferation of modern technology along with the erosion of the competitive advantage in areas where we have long contest her ability to influence and create a great range of challenges for globally responsive force. to retain and expand our competitive advantage is imperative we adapt these emerging security environment and do so with a sense of urgency. this requires the right balance of readiness, capability and capacity as well as budget ability and predict ability.
it requires the navy of at least 355 ships. the navy three or shipbuilding plan for fiscal year 2019 provides a framework to achieve this 355 ship navy at a steady sustainable and affordable rate. current plan puts the navy on path to 327 ships by fy 2023 at 355 ships by 2034. executing the plan relies on sufficient stable funding. it also requires we continue to reform our business processes as well as ensure we maintain robust industrial base. shipbuilding industrial base and supporting vendor base continues to be a unique national security imperative properly managed and protect good. we value and can assure that are navy marine corps team operating around the world continue to provide effective deterrence as instruments of peace and protect
those who are threatened. but thank you for the strong support the subcommittee has always provided the department of navy and the opportunity to appear before you today. we look forward to answering your questions. >> thank you very much. i'll just direct questions to the panel and the one who feels best suited to answer step forward. encouraging use on the requirement, the statutory requirement according to the unanimous position of the subcommittee and also the law of the land signed by the president of the united states. 327 by the year 2023, 355 and another 11 years after that. i'll opt to mom will that make
speed, mr. secretary and those two stages? >> sarah, as we talk about in the springtime were ready to accelerate the plan they extending the life of a number of our destroyers. that is not the optimal mix per se. alternate over to admiral merz to where he sees an imbalance, that certainly makes that would allow us to execute the national defense strategy. >> first of all, senator, and like to echo secretary geurts' appreciation on the enactment of the bill. it just makes every process significantly more efficient. >> a bipartisan achievement and i'm proud to have been part of this team. >> thank you very much. regarding the mix we've been long-time defenders of the proper mixed at 355. a derived number. we determine what types of ships we need and we get higher
depending on what study rally around. when we extended the life to 45 years, it immediately shifted the plan as far as total numbers but in the incorrect mix. however, if you're going to have an incorrect mix it's nice to have too many balancing out the remainder of the fleet, so we determine the imbalance is less of a risk in balancing correct direction. but we still need to fill in the rest of the fleet and hold the fort down is a sound way forward. >> let me ask you about some assumptions that might change the plan and get us there faster. specifically what would happen if the navy changed some or all of the assumptions, execute
additional service life extension? maintain ship building funding models at fiscal year 2035 level after we get finished with the columbia class procurement. that would be sweet, with net. receive supplemental funding for the program outside the normal account in fy 21 through 35 indoor use the available capacity identified in the 30 year ship building plan. >> sarah, all of those would be instruments of change to move back to the left. when we built the ship tilting plan, we built the framework of what a steady sustainable rate would be in where we had opportunities to accelerate should funding become available whether that's in destroyers or submarines were some of the other classes. those opportunities exist
depending on the levels of those assumptions you spoke of there, there certainly opportunity to move that plan to the left. i think it is important and i think both of my colleagues would share we are balanced in doing that. as we look forward to her plan, with to make sure we can sustain and keep ready and that's part of the calculus as we move forward as well. >> e-mail, according to statute, we are supposed to revert back to the dca caps. viewed as unthinkable and irresponsible on the part of this congress. but what would happen if we did that or how might a declining defense budget affect the ship holding account? what would that do to our national defense readiness?
>> sarah, our job -- >> your 12 seconds, sir. >> yes, sir. the department of navy create the best balance force mix we can given the funding available. i won't hypothesize what that might look like in the different budget scenarios other than to say we would try and balance with the funding available that significant a cut would be difficult to imagine us executing current plan under dca caps. >> difficult to imagine, yes. >> if i can add onto that come it to pieces. your previous question about certified extensions we review every ship when we can, but the last two points you made i think are absolutely fundamental to sustaining the ship tilting plan in the study profile and figure out an alternate solution to the funding profile which we've
already identified in the ship building plan. not quite a panic evidence on the horizon. as far as the bca, i think we can go from immediate to devastating impact. >> thank you very much. senator shaheen. thank you, mr. chairman. secretary geurts, i am glad that admiral merz was more direct about his response to that question. and i would say to you all that this is an imminent possibility in a mosque congress is very clear about what the impact is going to be, i think it makes it harder to make a decision. i hope you will not be as diplomatic as you were in your response to that question and you'll be very direct and say this is what the impact it's going to be. i think we need to hear that in order to make the best decision possible.
>> absolutely. >> secretary geurts come as we all know the goal of 355 ship navy came as a result of that cutie are in 2014. all of us here on the subcommittee were in the house for the house at security firm and we heard admiral davidson, commander of the pacific command say that we need a bigger navy. .. >> still comfortable that that number of ships is adequate to address the growing threat from china and russia, for that matter, the great power competition that we're now facing? >> yes, ma'am. i'll take that one. so the 2016 fsa was a, was a composite of the old plans, the threat, the threat vectors and
then what are the phases of warfare we have to deal with across those threat vectors. no matter what study you looked at, they all said we need to be bigger. and we, we've endeavored on a path to get bigger. 355, i think, is a minimum. we are, we have started the process on the next force structure assessment. typically about a year-long process when we get the new combatant commanders in place. the adjustment to the old plans and how that affects the component command, in our case, the navy component commands. and then we put together the force structure assessment, and then we have typically a commission of external assessors to look at that, and then we red team it. single force structure assessment typically will influence two or three budget cycles which is, actually, a pace that is very aligned with how quickly we can even adjusts the shipbuilding plan in the
force structure. so it typically works out well for us. we have seen nothing from the combatant commanders to date or secretary mattis' national defense strategy that would give us any indication that we're going to be coming off that 355 ship in composition or in total numbers. >> thank you. secretary gertz, you testified before the subcommittee in april about the navy's initiatives to work with small business. i come from a state where small business is the foundation of our economy. we heard recently from air force secretary wilson about the air force's blue shift initiative to try and engage small businesses in the needs of the air force in the future. is there anything similar that the navy is doing with small business? >> yes, ma'am if, absolutely. and coming off of 2018, one of the largest years on record for the navy in terms of small business awards. we're a couple percent above our
goals with over $15 billion going directly to small businesses. so they are key to our future, absolutely. so, yes, i'm coordinating directly with dr. roper and take thing advantage of any opportunity there. the navy still is kind of top reformer of all the services on super phase three, opportunities where we turn those initial small business awards into researcher awards. and then this last -- into larger awards. and this last year we've awarded several ship construction projects directly to small businesses on the coast. sometimes i think it gets thought of only from a technology standpoint, and we're having small business constructing ships for us and doing an outstanding job. they will be a key to our future. >> that's great, i appreciate hearing that. can you tell us how we can assure that small businesses in our states are aware of what's going on and how to be engaged in those proposals when they come out?
>> yes, absolutely. so i've assigned the deputy program manager for a all of our programs as a small business advocate, and so one thing to recommend to them is for any of the programs that they're interested in, contact the program manager. that way they've got somebody inside the program that's their advocate as well as any of our small business offices we have all around navy. >> great. we will follow up. thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> let me just follow up, admiral, on senator shaheen's first line of questioning. i would call to everyone's attention secretary geurts' opening statement. the emerging threats have not diminished in the last two years, have they, admiral? if anything, they've gotten worse. >> exactly right, sir. >> and the challenges, i think his statement was they're more dynamic, and you certainly agree
with that. so, if anything, there'd be a higher requirement. now, this 355 you mentioned -- and i appreciate you saying this -- this is the minimum that we need. a 355-ship fleet is not some best case ideal that we'd hike to achieve if everything -- that we'd like to achieve if everything goes well. am i correct there? >> yes, sir. >> so what -- i mean, actually, the admirals and generals caming back to us with 655, didn't they? >> yes, sir. that was one of the numbers that was evaluated. >> and it was, of course, resource-challenged, and we have to the make all the numbers come out. we don't have unlimited funds. but the 355 is the minimum. under a scenario where things were dangerous but actually less dangerous than they are right now, am i correct? >> yes, sir, absolutely correct. when we constructed the
shipbuilding plan, you know, first and foremost, we set a steady build rate that would continue to grow the navy over time at an affordable rate and to protect the industrial base. we put tremendous effort in identifying the extra capacity in the shipyards that we could increase the pace to 355. and that was independent of the service life extensions that we did with not just the deg-51s, but we're also looking at up to seven los angeles class submarines that we're going to endeavor to do service life extensions on. you know, the fact is it's going to take us decades to get there, and the higher the pace, the steeper the ramp the better. we are also endeavoring to design ships that can take much better advantage of things we can control on a shorter timeline, like the capabilities we put on these ships. the way we've been explaining it is, you know, the con-ops, the tactics on how the commander employs the ships, that can
change in hours, days, weeks. the capabilities, months and years to develop. ships, years and decades to put together. so we're endeavoring to design these ships to take on these capabilities under a much shorter timeline to affect these con-ops. it's all tied together. 355's the minimum to get there. the sooner wet go there, the better. >> and i would just echo also, secretary geurts, what senator shaheen said. we don't want you to be alarmist. we don't want you to exaggerate and wave your arms. you're relaxed about your job, and you're going to do what you can with what we give you. but do tell us, tell us the facts, and let's be honest with the american people about how far behind we've gotten. so thank you very much. >> yes, sir. i just -- one other piece on the budget control act. obviously, the number is devastating in itself.
the other piece that's particularly challenging for shipbuilding is ships are line item appropriated, and those cuts come down as an equal share to every appropriation. and so not only is the number itself, you know, a drastic reduction which will cause great disruption, how that number will get laid across the budget should we get in that condition will be devastating to the way we have funded and constructed our shipbuilding program. so there's a little bit of a double whammy in there that will cause, you know, a complete disruption of a program should that path come to us. >> i think, members of the committee, we're actually working on the 2020 budget even as we speak. so the, the future is imminent. senator rounds. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'd like to follow up on what the chairman was suggesting
here. admiral mertz, in september the commander of the u.s. naval forces in europe said, and i quote, i think russian submarines today are perhaps some of the most silent and lethal in the world. unquote. and that the caliber of the missiles from coastal air systems, aircraft and systems have shown the ability to reach pretty much all the capitals in europe from any of the bodies of water that surround europe. how is this type of russian activity factoring into navy budgeting and posture decisions? >> yes, sir. so the specific capabilities of russia, we keep a very close eye on. and admiral fogle, being a submariner, is uniquely attuned to the undersea capabilities. matter of fact, he's spent much of his life underwater -- [laughter] working on this problem. unfortunately, i can't really speak in this forum to the
specific capabilities we're concerned about and what we're doing about it, but i'm happy to come and brief you in a separate forum on how that dose -- >> that's fine, but i think what's important here is that there is a need for additional resources. and that our peer adversaries are not sitting still. they are developing their systems, they're continuing to move with new technologies. and what this open session is an opportunity to do is to highlight our need to continue to move forward with those new technologies. and it's really difficult to be able to share with the american public unless you're prepared to lay out in some pretty clear terms just how serious the threats are from our near-peer competitors. i'm going to ask on the russian side, and then we're going to go into china. but on the russian side, can you visit a little bit about how serious this is, or is this just day-to-day operations? >> the capabilities that russia brings is very serious. they're tremendous engineers.
we've been sparring with them for quite a long time. as you say, our old cold war adversaries. the technologies they develop are often leading in whatever field they desire -- >> so i'm going to lead you down the road a little bit. so the 1990s technology that we have today, are they capable of handling the technologies that are being deployed today by the soviet union with regard to submarine warfare? >> so are we capable of handling the '90s technology that russia has fielded? >> or the ones that they're fielding today with our 1990s technologies. >> sir, i really can't get into how we're going to deal with the russian capabilities from a u.s. capability standpoint. we'll have to take that to a different forum. >> okay. how about on china? and i'm going to ask this of both of you. the former indo-pacific commander has testified only half his requirement for attack submarines in the pacific theater was being met.
this challenge will only grow worse in the 2020 thes as attack submarines retire than a faster rate. how is the navy planning to mitigate the shortfall in the 2020s, and what are you doing right now to make sure that you don't have additional attack submarines setting at dry dock such as what we had with the boise and several others as well? >> yes, sir. again, i think if you asked admiral merz, that is probably the most looming short after the ahead of us, is in attack subs. so i think we're attacking that in several different courses of action. one is ramping up the virginia production to two, potentially more than two down the road, submarines per year and getting those submarines, new submarines out into the fleet. the second area is where can we do some service life extensions. some of our existing submarines using the seven cores we have
available to extend the life of some of our existing submarines and push -- you know, mitigate some of the backup that's coming up. and the third piece is attacking availability so that we have every submarine is available and in the fight as we can. >> how many submarines do you have in dry dock right now waiting to get in? how many of them are tied up waiting to get into dry dock today? >> sir, i'll have to get you the exact number on. that both how do we improve performance in the public shipyards, so that's part of our shipyard on themyization plan. and how do we move, work and leverage the private capability so that we don't have ships waiting to get into the public yards. currently, we have four ships in the private submarine yards doing their availability repairs. we're going to contract for an additional two coming out. and so the commander and i are looking for closely at the future throughput we need both in the public yards in the private yards to balance that out so we don't get back into
the state where we have submarines waiting for years to get into the yard. >> the point being i think it's pretty tough to ask the private boat yards to be able to be ready to go not knowing whether or not we're going to have the resources available to fund those systems on a timely basis. that's part of the reason for the discussion today is, is not only looking at the technologies necessary, but just to maintain the existing fleet on our way to the a 355 we've got to have consistent funding in the mix that you can count on in order to make those long-term contractual obligations with the folks who actually do the repair work. >> absolutely, sir. the steady and predictable funding is the key. we've got to convert that into deliberate plans with enough lead time so that those private yards are ready and equipped to take that input as we come in. when i look at the future, i think there's always going to be a future of both public and private submarine maintenance that makes sense from having a
balanced skill set that gives us flexible options depending on the repairs we need to do and attaches throughput so that we maximize the availability of every asset we have. >> and i'll ask, for the record, the numbers that you've got right now that are waiting to get into dry dock that you can get back to me on. thank you. >> absolutely, sir. >> senator, i'd like to follow up g jess. >> on your larger number of submarines and what are we doing to get there. i think this is a tremendous case study for everybody. if you walk away from your industrial base, there is no graceful recovery. there is nothing we can do to minimize the trough other than selectively picking years that we can potentially build a third submarine per year, and even that will not full in that trough. we are not going to reach 6 of submarines until -- 66 submarines, and it's simply a result of delivering the number's close, i think it's two submarines in the '90s. and that's an industrial base
that's just not sustainable. this is the long-term impact. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator kaine. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thanks to the witnesses for being here today and for your service. i have questions about four discreet issues i'll just address, and whoever can deal with them, please do. first, secretary geurts, your opening statement, written statement, talked about the possibility of the two cvn buy, the significant savings associated should the department choose to pursue the option. the nd a aa that we passed requires the secretary of defense to certify to the defense committees not later than 30 days before entry into a contract if you decide to go to buy route. can you give me a status report? are we likely to have some certification of that time soon? >> yes, sir. we've been working closely with the shipyard and negotiating what savings would look like should we go into a two carrier
condition. we think those savings will be better than the $2.5 billion number that i quoted, i think, the last time we spoke. we are in -- as you know, the '20 budget process right now, so we have not made a final decision on whether to pursue that or not. i would expect that decision sometime by the tend of this calendar year. and, obviously, then we would have -- should we go down that path -- the sec-def would certify that and submit that to congress -- >> what's your drop dead date on having to make that decision? >> sir, i'm not sure it's a drop dead date, per se. we're aiming to have that decision by the end of the calendar year. if that decision were to move out much longer than the calendar year, the savings achievable will start to erode given that we currently have cvn80 on contract. >> a second issues -- issue, and
it deals with the submarine supply base, there was $450 million in the fy-18 and '19ndaas for supplier base expansion. we've heard from some suppliers that the navy has yet to release any of those funds. i don't know whether that's true or not, but that's what we've heard. is that the case, and if so, can you tell us what you're likely to do to release those funds and start to -- >> i'm going to pass that to secretary geurts. >> sir, let me take that for the record, i believe we have obligated all the fy-18 funding, but let me take you for the record and get you a full accounting of that actual obligations to date. and then for the things we haven't obligated, both the timing and where we plan to obligate those. >> we'll submit that for the record. there have been challenging with the advanced weapons elevators on the cvn. some of the technical difficulties seem similar to those that were experienced earlier on the launch and arresting systems. i think that the navy put
together independent review teams to tackle those issues and provide solutions. are we at a point where that may be needed on the weapons elevators, or are we in a position where we think the progress on the weapons elevators is satisfactory? >> yes, sir. so there are 11 weapons elevators, each one of them we have to produce, test and then certify. the first two of those have been produced, the first one's been through test and certification. second one's about 94% through test. we're making progress to get through all the elevators during this availability. i am likely to do an independent review team not on the immediate construction for cvn-78, but looking at the longer term sustainability, resilience, reliability to make sure we're in a position to support those elevators for the long term, that we've got all the training, all the reliability built into those. we've done some mini independent
reviews for the 38 elevator -- 78 elevator design as they are. so we won't to one on the current efforts on 78. we've got a dedicated team working our way through those issues -- >> and is your timing on 78, you have this 12-month period where you're testing, you think you'll get through the testing and certification of all the 11 elevators -- >> we'll get through all the production and much of the testing. we may have some of the certification issues to go. i'm watching that very closely, and we'll keep you and your staff informed on progress there. >> excellent. this last one is very, it's kind of a minor and technical thing, and yet it may or portend a larger problem. we've got a company in virginia called collins machine works, they're in portsmouth, and they have raised an issue that i think is kind of an interesting one, and the committee has become aware of this. there's an issue with propeller shafts for the virginia class
sub. this is a contractor that has used a commercial, off the shelf product for which there was no military specification in terms of welding flux. the subcontractor then changed the mixture of the welling flicks. turns out that -- welding flux. turns it it doesn't meet the requirements, and i think collins has let the navy know about this. i'm assuming -- we sort of promote use of off the shelf technologies if we can, and in this instance this wasn't a mill spec, and so there was a change of it by the supplier that ended up affecting the production of the propeller shafts for the cvn. is that just kind of a normal kind of a thing that you work through as it comes up, or does it portend something larger about use of off the shelf commercial products? >> i'm not sure it portends to a special i have issue, i think wt does show us is how fragile our supplier base is and how if you have an issue with one supplier, it can cause larger programmatic
issues. so, you know, one of the things that was in the industrial base report we did as part of the executive order, some of the work we're doing with the funding that this committee has provided is really looking at the fragility of that supplier base, how do we bolster that opportunity, where do we have single source suppliers that we can bring on, you know, bring additional sources on to give us flexibility. one, so we aren't caught with only one supplier in certain conditions; two, so we can grow at the production rate we need to grow at. >> i think that the point, mr. chair, just about the fragility of the supply base, if you have a supplier and they just change the mixture on the welding flux, and then that leads to inadequate delivery of propellers for the subs which then means the subs can't do what they're supposed to do, it's pretty fragile when the mixture ends up potentially blocking your ability to get propellers. >> absolutely. >> i think using the funds that i asked about earlier to expand the submarine supply base is
important to make sure that we're not leaning too heavily on something that's as fragile as you point out. >> absolutely. >> [inaudible] >> the 450 billion that you asked about -- >> yeah. yeah, i think that can be used to address some of these challenges, i think. >> and you agree with that? >> yes, sir. we certainly agree. i mean, we've done a lot of work looking at common suppliers across our nuclear aircraft carriers and submarine programs and, actually, the support of the committee here both making sure they're if suppliers are ready to go and that we can take advantage of doing common buys across those programs so that supplier sees a more steady stream of planned and predictable work. it's challenging enough at the prime level when programs start and stop and move around. it gets really challenging in the -- challenging in the second, third and fourth-level suppliers to be able to deal with, you know, changing profiles and changing requirements. and so the efforts the committee
has done here to help us in that regard will pay off big as we continue along on these important programs. >> thank you so much. thanks, mr. chair. >> mr. secretary, you answered senator kaine's question about the troubling issue of the advanced weapons elevators. let's get your thoughts on three others that are significant risk in the ford chat. the electromagnetic aircraft launching system, the advanced resting gear and the dual band radar. how are we coming on those? >> sir, i would say of all of the technologies on the cvn-78, of which there were many, we improved that on this lead ship. the weapons elevator is the one that's the last one for us to get tied up and work our way through. i think we've got a path there. on the, on both the emuls
program, both the launcher and the arresting gear, we've had over 747, i think 747, both catapults and traps on the cvn-78 during its 81 days -- >> i hope the numbers were equal of the launches and -- >>. yeah, they were. [laughter] relatively. 24,000 cycle events of that equipment on our shore-based test site there. so we're feeling pretty confident on both, both of those systems both on catapults and the arresting gear there. dual band radar, again, making good progress there. don't see any major technical issues with that, with that system as well. and then as we look toward cvn-79, we're seeing fairly drastic reductions in labor hours. h. i'm sorry has proven that -- h.i. has proven that once we get this design nailed down, their
ability to be efficient in producing those, we're seeing 16% less production labor hours on the second carrier in that class than the first one. and so as we get that design locked down, the efficiencies that we expected to see are bearing out in the production phase. >> we're going to be glad we went with the emuls and advanced resting gear? >> yes, sir. the challenge with the legacy systems, one, are parts and being able to produce those. but for the carriers of the future, to be able to launch everything from fairly heavy fighter craft and very right systems like the mq-25, you need these systems to have the range of capability you need to launch that different kind of air wing of the future. and so while, yes, there have certainly been technical
challenges, it really opens up our ability to operate a wider variety of aircraft from the deck, both manned and unhand -- unmanned. which i think is going to be critical as we look to the future. >> thank you. let's talk about frigates. we're supposed to do a competitive award in 2020. please update the subcommittee on the navy's acquisition strategy for the new frigate. is the intent still to award the contract based on full and open competition? >> sir, absolutely. we're marching right along the schedule that we briefed earlier, and recently the cno and i both validated the frigate requirements, so we've got those locked down. that was per the schedule we have. we're drafting the rfp which we will request for proposal which
we'll get out to industry here this spring. that will give us time to get additional feedback from them. we've been interacting throughout this whole design process as we've looked at all the design requirements to make sure the requirements were affordable. that will then lead to an rfp we plan to release at the end of this fiscal year which will give us a full year to award that competitive contract, full and open competition for the frigate program. so that program remains on track, and i'm confident we will execute that to plan. >> now, on the, on the lcs, the congressional research service noted that the navy did not perform a formal, rigorous analysis to determine the right approach to addressing the set of capability gaps and mission needs with regard to the lcs.
how are we going to keep from repeating this experience with the new frigate? and do you challenge the crs in their conclusion? >> go ahead. >> sir, i'll, i'll take that one. so regarding the crs on the lcs, no, we don't challenge it. we took some lumps on the lcs, we learned a lot. i am personally a fan of that ship and that ship class. i think it has tremendous utility and will come through all that. i would tell you a lot of lessons learned. we rolled into the frigate process. it's a new process for us. we brought industry in early to discuss how these requirements may may out using their expertise to really discover the art of possible before we set the requirements. created some anxiety up front, a lot of give and take. i think, in the end, industry's happy. we are getting -- at least all the vectors are -- a much more
lethal hip for the price point -- ship for the price point. and simply because -- instead of levying the price, we're working with them in the process. that's a healthier approach to avoid some of the pitfalls we had with some of the earlier classes. >> you describe today's -- can you describe today's vision for the future surface combatant force, admiral? to what extent does extending the service life of the arleigh burke class destroyers affect the timeline for procuring the next large surface combatant? >> yes, sir. i touch thed on that a little bit earlier when i was talking about the spectrum of things we can influence over time, and the piece about the large surface combatant making it as adaptable platform as we can to take advantage of these much more quickly-turning capabilities we're going to have to field and really adapt it in the final
frame of one maintenance cycle. not a dry dock, not an overhaul. we can outfit these ships and move it out. the arleigh burke is a fantastic ship. the flight iii that we're delivering soon is going to be pretty much the most capable ship on the seas. the problem with the arleigh burke is she's full. we don't have much room to expand or modernize her much beyond her current platform. matter of fact, she is capable to the point now that the next large surface combatant is probably going to pick up right where we left off with the arleigh burke. so there is this very nice evolution between the two ships. we're testing out the technology on the arleigh burke. the adaptability concept of the next generation of large surface combatant, i think we're going to be in a much better position to be a lot more agile both on industry and the war--fighting side with the -- >> what would be the time frame, generally speaking, of this next generation? >> it's a two-phased approach. the first one, early '20s,
'23, '24. and then a follow-on version in the late '20s. really dependent on how this first, this first phase goes. >> senator shaheen. >> thank you, mr. chairman. earlier today the full armed services committee heard from the national defense strategy commission. on their report about the nds. and one of the comments that admiral rough had made was that it had taken 15 months to get the john mccain back into operation. and it was in the context of suggesting that we can't afford to have that kind of an asset down for that long a period of time. and, you know, if we look at history, during the five-year span of world war ii, portsmouth produced over 70 submarines. four of them were launched on one day in 1944.
i appreciate that we're in a totally different time and technology is different. but what are we going to do the about that concern that we can't have that major an asset down for that period of time? and expect to be competitive? >> yes, ma'am. i think, i agree with the concern that we've got to be able to not only have the assets to start the fight or withstand the first day of the fight, but withstand the sustained fight. part of what we're looking at is we relook at both our public shipyards and how we do private repairs. it's to get more stability into those yards and get them all to the point where they are capitalized to be able to operate at the pace we need them to operate with. without even a wartime scenario, just looking at the amount of ship repair work we're going to have to do, i mean, that is going to continue to accelerate at the same pace as we are in
this shipbuilding. one of the things we're going to do this year is a 30-year ship repair sustainment plan so we can look at where do we have any limitations in the system whether that's capabilities like dry docks, are we maximizing use of all the capacity we have, and then are there things we could do better on the acquisition strategy side that would enable some more stability in those both public and private yards, because they could stabilize their work force. our biggest challenge, you know, facilities is a challenge. our largest challenge is in the work force. >> right. >> end of business. and if we can't get stability both in new construction and in repair, then we'll really struggle to attract the work force and retain the work force we need. senator kaine had a great session down in the norfolk area just on work force. and if you look at the numbers we have to hire, it's a pretty staggering number. now, if we can get to a sustainable infrastructure both on the public side and on the private side that can handle that load, that gives a lot more
flexibility to handle unplanned work and work that in. right now we're right along the edge. i'm sorry, sir? >> tell us about that number. since we're talking about that. what information did senator kaine elicit there about the staggering number -- >> so senator kaine had a great session just between the public yards and the private yards and the local community, and i would say it's the same in all of our shipbuilding towns of how do we work together to attract, train and retain the work force. whether it's in the public yards or in the private yards, whether it's new build or repair. we've got to look at that in aggregate. and our biggest challenge in terms of achieving velocity is in work force. you know, i think over 50% right now, 56% in the public yards in materials of work force have less than five years' experience.
so not only do we have to attract those workers and get them in the system, then we've got to figure out how to more effectively train them. i would say portsmouth's leading -- >> right. one of the challenges there. >> -- leading in terms of some really progressive ways to rapidly train. the challenge is, circling all the way back to bca, drastic cuts where we have to turn that whole pipeline on, to admiral merz's point. you don't just a year later turn that back on. you're going to create a decade problem that will cause another decade to turn around. and is so my hope is, you know, unless we address this growing need, we won't handle the current workload, much less emergent work that comes out of, heaven forbid, an accident or wartime repair. >> thank -- i agree. thank you. >> ma'am, i'll just pile on. i have a lot of personal experience with portsmouth naval shipyard. it's a very solid citizen as far
as repairing our ships. on their behalf, i would tell you the mccain is a tough test case. she's not a typical repair. she's not -- >> yeah. i was, i was not suggesting that mccain was an issue for the portsmouth naval shipyard finish. >> yes, ma'am. >> just that it reflects the challenge that we've got. >> mccain was somewhere between, you know, reconstruction, twisted steel, she was a mess, and she took a lot of work. >> thank you. >> senator kaine. >> well, if i could, i would just like to thank secretary geurts, because he -- at my invitation -- came down. and just to kind of shower, after we got the ndaa down and we had the commitment to 355 shims, i think everybody in my shipbuilding community was feeling great. i'm sure yours were feeling the same way. we kind of needed a scared straight the moment where these won't build themselves. so we had the work force needs of a 355-ship navy, and we pulled together public and private shipyards, both the
builders and reparowers, and then all of the -- repairers. community college, four years and secretary geurts and others came down and said if we're going to do this, let me tell you what the need will be. the head of the huntington english shipyard said, well, the shipbuilders that will be building these are in pre-k right now, but if we're not equipping them with the skills or having guidance counselors position them in this direction, we might not meet the challenge in hampton roads and -- >> do you agree, secretary, that around senator shaheen's shipyard, it's cold there a lot of the time? [laughter] and senator kaine's place, the congestion, it's awful. trying to get to and from work -- [laughter] >> sir, my family's from green bay, so those are both very warm
places. [laughter] >> it turned out to be just what my community needed. that june 8th symposium has generated a follow-on collaboration, and i'm attending the opening of a new technical institute connected to tidewater community college next monday? yeah, i think next monday. they will be training a lot of people in the trades that would be relevant to this. but i think the work force needs are going to be massive. and to balance, the other thing i'll give secretary geurts compliments on, the notion of a 30-year ship repair plan, a 30-year shipbuilding plan is fantastic, but the notion of ship repair, which was quite affected by sequester, all the readiness stuff, it really put the work force in a posion where they didn't know what was coming and when it would come and how would sequester affect them. the idea of trying to do a ship repair plan over the same time horizon you're doing new construction mistakes perfect
sense -- makes perfect seven, and that was also music to the community's ear. last thing i'll say, too, i don't mean to throw a competitor into the mix, but i toured the navy base in rhoda on november the 9th which was a friday morning. and in rhoda a lot of american ship repair is done by finish. [inaudible] and the navy leadership at the rhoda base talked about, you know, we see our ships repaired in public yards and private shipyards, and they were saying, hey, they built the mien saw, the pin that and the santa maria, they know what they're doing. so there's good ideas out there. if you're trying to do a 30-year ship repair plan, and all the good ideas are not necessarily ours, and we should be trying to take them from wherever we find them. >> absolutely, sir. and if we can clearly show that
demand signal with some stability, then we'll get a number of players interested in that. where we're doing a lot of work on our side is really looking at how we contract for those ship repairers and making improvements to that both for a stability standpoint of we're already seeing some of our um improvements having a drastic impact on reducing timeline and allowing more players to come in to create a competitive and capable field. because, again, there's plenty of work coming. we struggle a little bit over the last several years with the current amount of repairs. that's going to the, as we talked about, that's going to continue to grow. so we've got to pay very close attention to that. >> general berger, thank you for listening to us for an hour. [laughter] the minimum navy requirement for am fib rouse yo -- amphibious
ships is 38. combatant commanders need more than 50 amphibious ships on a day-to-day basis. the current inventory includes only 32 amphibious ships with just 10-15 operationally available on a 2007 day. what's being -- on a given day. what's being done to close this gap in and let me ask you about either a multi-year or block buy of lpds. >> a couple parts to the answer to your question, senator. first, the 38 ships, as you mentioned, is the agreed number based on a capacity to land two marine expeditionary brigades. the national defense strategy requires us to compete and deter and then fight if we need to. which is why the combatant commanders, as you state, say it's higher than 38. and without -- if it's not going
to go any higher than that, then that means some risk somewhere in the globe that the secretary and the chairman have to lance balance -- have to balance. what we're doing to close it, what the navy are doing to close it on the big decks is the next lha, a follow-on to the american tripoli, absolutely critical. and earlier is better from a navy/marine corps standpoint. because we need 12 big decks. they are an incredible platform, and anything we can do to move that, accelerate that is a good thing. on the smaller end, the lpd flight ii which is a follow-on, of course, to the san antonio class, absolutely brilliant use of a hull that both the marine corps and navy are happy with, we're comfortable with and replacing the lsds which are 35, 40 years old, absolutely critical. >> maybe, mr. secretary, on the
flight ii, does the navy plan to buy one ship at a time or block by, and is -- or block buy? and stabilizing supplier base, does the navy plan to use the $350 million to buy multiple sets of long lead time material? >> so generically, you know, we have used block buys and multi-years extremely effectively here with the support of the committee to both accelerate production and save costs. on deg-51 we'll save $700 million on that multi-year. in terms of the lpd one, it's a little early right now, pre-decisional in terms of what we'll do with that funding until we sort out our '20 budget. i'll be happy to come brief the committee once we get the '20 budget locked down, and we'll describe the strategy we have when we get the president's
budget over here in february. >> okay. senator kaine. senator king. >> thank you, mr. chairman, i apologize for being late. admiral merz, the zumwalt is being armed, if you will, combat system activation in san diego. i guess my first question is how's that going? >> it's going well. as you know, we did a review of the advanced weapons system and then the combat system, and in the end we decided to -- >> can you? is your mic on? >> yes, sir, i'll lean forward here. we determined the best future is to get it out there with the capability it has and separate out the advanced gun system,
leaving everything else in place. very capable platform with or without that gun, and we'll be developing either that, the round that goes with that gun or what we're going to do with the space if we decide to remove that gun in the future. the rest of the ship is doing fine. it's till on track to -- it's still on track to be operational 2021 to the fleet and then in the ensuing cycle to get it on deployment thereafter. >> and i understand it's basically been remissioned from land attack to strike, sea-based strike. is that -- can you define that? >> it's been remissioned to a strike platform, whether it's sea-based, sea targets or land targets. it can handle both. and that takes advantage of its tremendous arsenal of the ls cells. the other benefit of the superwallet class is those are larger than any other -- zumwalt this was the thrust that drove
us to, hey, or let's get the ship out there, let's not hold it back because of the projectile challenges. and it's a science and technology challenge. it's not an engineering problem. we with just cannot get the thing to fly as far as we want. so we're going to continue to work on that and take advantage of the strike capabilities with the combat system of that ship. >> if my next question's getting into a classified area, please, tell me. >> yes, sir. >> given the power capabilities of that ship, is this -- do we see this long term as an opportunity for directed energy or other kinds of non-projectile or non-expensive projectile -- >> sir. yes, sir, we do. before you arrived, i talked about how we are moving to an era of new ship adaptability. i would tell you zumwalt is kind of the case study for that. she has the balance of what we call swap sea, space-weight
power and communications that allows us to expand the ship over time. so she is going to be a candidate for any advance weapons system we develop -- >> particularly given the power generation. >> exactly right. exactly right. >> yen berger, do you have any concerns about this remissioning? does this undermine the land strike capacity that the marines might have been counting on from this ship? >> senator, i don't think it replaces it at all. i think any forward commander's going to ask for all the capability he can, he can have, and the zumwalt ads to an arsenal that's already there -- adds to. i don't look at it as a challenge or competitor at all a. if you were in pac-fleet, this is more tools in your tool kit. >> secretary guerts, talk about combatants, surface combatants. there's always a trade-off between industrial base and absolute low price. describe you and secretary spencer's view of how to you
make that trade-off to be sure that we're maintaining the industrial base that's necessary going forward? >> yes, sir. i mean, obviously, they're all things we consider as we look at different systems and look at the industrial base. we aim to put together strategies that enable us both to keep cost competitiveness as well as a predictable, stable industrial base. so i think as you saw, we adjust -- if i can use an example, the deg-51, we adjusted from what used to be kind of a pro-based approach to, okay, each will have enough quantity guaranteed to have a stable production line. and then over time we'll compete, so in our case we didn't put the option ships into that ten multiyear because depending on when the timing
was, depending on the situation we may make different choices on each of those option ships. so that was finish. >> but are, is this kind of calculus going to be applied to the option ships? >> sir, we will always look at both pieces of that. and i have flexibility depending on, depending on the situation to make determinations along any of those lines. >> let me ask about the frigates. you've taken a different approach. rather than a blank sheet of paper, i can't remember the term, parent craft, i think, is the term. do you anticipate significant savings from that approach? it make sense to me. i'll preface the question, but -- >> yes, sir. i think two things that are, that are unique in that acquisition strategy that i think will bear fruit for us, one is fessfying -- specifies that we needed to have a parent design to then are reduce the
risk in the timeline associated with -- >> the timeline is very aggressive. >> yes, sir. the second piece, which i think has been paying big dividends for us, is having an interactive and iterative requirements process. and so the cno and i just slapped the table on the requirements for the frigate -- >> you've closed the door. >> we've closed the door, but that was will have almost a -- after almost a year with iterative conversation with all the competitors where we looked at the cost, the risk, the schedule impacts of any of these potential requirements changes. so between the requirements side and the acquisition side which included the industrial partners, we had a great back and forth dialogue so that everyone understood going into the competition exactly what was expected. and we understood with much more precision than we have in the past the cost and risk to any of our requirements so that we, in
the end, created the best balance of affordability, achieve about and operational effectiveness. and that was a joint effort between the requirements and the acquisition side -- >> i compliment you on that. i think closing the door on the requirements at some point is one of the ways that we can defeat the problems of procurement and cost. how many of these are, is the bid going to be the for? how many frigates -- >> so the initial bid will be for the lead ship, and then nine -- the first ten of what's currently a requirement of twenty. that may get revisited -- >> and i understand that's a winner take all, out of the five bidders, one yard is going to get -- >> that's the current acquisitions approach, yes, sir. >> why that approach? you're having five yards, highly qualified, a lot of work, a lot of intellectual input why not some division of that buy in order, again, to get back to the
question we were discussing about industrial base? >> yes, sir. it's certainly a trade-off. i think the challenge is with a production rate that we currently have laid into the shipbuilding plan, one would have to really look hard to do we have -- is this enough work to sustain two yards in parallel with that. now, obviously, if we revisit that production rate and production ramp, there are certainly opportunities to have more than one yard produce that. part of our strategy will be to produce a data package that would allow, should we want to go down that path, additional producers of the ship. we'll have to balance that, you know, so that'll be a cost effective -- >> plus for the second round you would have additional competition. you would have additional competition plus industrial base maintenance. i hope that's at least in the discussion. >> yes, sir. we'll continue to look at that as we go forward. our current focus right now, and i'm happy to report, we're on track in terms of locking the
requirements down. we'll have a draft rfp out this spring, final rfp out by the end of this fiscal year which will put us in conditions to effectively award that initial contract in october of 2020. >> right. thank you. thank you, mr. chair. >> senator blumenthal. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for having this hearing, and thank you, each of you, for your service to our nation and for being here today. i was very pleased, secretary ge or urts -- geurts and admiral merz, to see the columbia class remains the navy's number one acquisition priority and is on track to start construction at the beginning of fy-2021. i assume you'd agree with me that it is vitally important that that program remain on track. >> yes, sir, that is my number one priority. >> and that's the reason that i
championed an additional $237 million in this year's ndaa in advanced procurement above the president's budget to address the long lead time that is required for this kind of program adding capacity and capability to sufficiently prepare the submarine industrial base for that very substantial increase in work. you can't hire people necessarily for that kind of program just by putting an ad in the newspaper, correct? >> yes, sir. the supplier base will be the, one of the pacing items for that program. particularly as we look at that program of two virginias and four aircraft carrier. we're looking across that base all the time. >> would you support increased advanced procurement funding for that program? >> sir, i would say advanced procurement funding and anything we can do to help the supplier
base will dallas create reduce -- drastically reduce risk going toward. what we're seeing in most of our construction programs is a key risk is supplier fragility, either single sources or single producers where we have to ramp up production. >> thank you. i'm sure that you have read repeatedly and carefully the gao report entitled "actions needed to address costly maintenance delays facing the attack submarine fleet." i know senator shah shaheen asked you about maintenance issues and others may have as well. the report concluded, quote: the navy has not effectively allocated maintenance periods among the public and private shipyards to limit attack submarine idle time. as you're well aware, the gao estimates that since fy-2008 14 attack submarines have spent a combined 61 months, 1891 days
idling while waiting to enter shipyards for maintenance. meanwhile w electric boat -- which has additional capacity to take on maintenance availabilities -- is being underutilized which harms our industrial base because it means that those idle workers will go elsewhere. in fact, without additional work electric boat's work force will decline just as it needs to ramp up the work force for columbia class production. they need to hire an additional 15,000 new employees over the next ten years. so we need action now to address the backlog that is bad for our national security and the harmful impact on our industrial base. we've been talking about this maintenance backlog for over a year with no clear solution in
sight. when will the navy release a plan to provide maintenance work to electric boat in order to help manage their work force and the maintenance that needs to be done? >> yes, sir. i think, you know, attack submarine availability's a critical issue for us, particularly as we have the bathtub approaching. and so it's one of the primary focuses for myself and naval sea systems command. currently, we have four submarines in maintenance availabilities, combination of electric boat and newport news. we are going to award at least two additional availabilities into the private yards to better balance that out. but going forward, you know, under the new role this committee provided me to oversee ment, readiness -- oversee sustainth, readiness, i'm really focusing on advanced planning in the readiness area
for ship repair with a particular focus on submarines. and not only look at making sure we've got the public and the private yard balanced correct, but we do it in a predictable manner so that the private yards can faciletize and be prepared for it. ideally, my hope would be that we would have an enduring capability of both the public yards and the private yards for submarine repair. >> can you tell us when you will be making those awards? >> so the first four are currently underway. i believe this spring/summer we'll be releasing the next two maintenance availabilities, and then we're going to continue to look out over time. i can give you, if you like, a question for the record on the exact timing of each one of those. but my strategic approach to this is balancing out that work and getting prohibit about into
the maintenance planning so that we have capacity to get those ships both in and out of those availabilities on time to give the combatant commanders the capability they need. >> and two of those awards will be for private and two for public? is that the -- >> of our upcoming availabilities, at least two of them will be to the private yards. >> and will one of those yards be electric boat? >> yeah. we,, we're still sorting out exactly our strategy, whether we're going to compete those two private availabilities or whether sole source. >> and you would be able to provide more information in a question or for the record -- >> absolutely, sir. >> appreciate your -- >> absolutely. >> -- responding in that way. as you know, often the cost is lower in private yards like electric boat than it is in the public yards. the gao concluded that private shipyards were 24% less expensive from 2010-2017 for overhauling los angeles class
subs. has that been your experience? >> that hasn't been my experience per se. but i guess what i would say is, not taking on which is cheaper than the other, every one of them will benefit through better planning, more advanced planning and having a strategy everybody can plan to and then execute versus right now we don't, we have not provided the manning horizons which then -- the planning horizons which then drives up the cost on either side. >> i think that strategic change in protection will be welcome to everybody on this committee because we're all concerned about the maintenance backlogs that have occurred which pose a danger to our national security as well as our fiscal health, and i appreciate your providing any additional information -- >> yes, sir. and we're going to absolutely need those private yards as we look to service site extend some of the los angeles class ones by recoring those. that will put additional
pressure on the public yards. and so, again, my intent is to, with this 30-year ship repair plan, get more ahead, you know, get ahead of these looming availabilities and repair cycles so that we can put the right strategy in place which then enables us to more cost effectively deliver those availabilities and get those ships back in the fleet. >> thank you, mr. secretary. thank you, mr. chairman. >> general berger, let's talk ship to shore. tell us how we're doing on the marine air ground task forces and with regard to the ship to shore maneuver and the vision for the future of what are our gaps and shortfalls. >> senator, the connectors that you spoke of, as important as they are right now, they're going to be more important in the future. in the peer competition world,
which you alluded to in the beginning, the concept for the navy's operations and the marine corps' naval force forward, we're going to be more distributed. the more distributed we are, the more important connectors are. the lcats we have right now that have been slept once already need to be replaced, and they are being replaced. they have to be. the lcus that are 45, 50 years old have to also be replaced. both are going to be critical to move the naval force, the marine force around the naval force both from ship to here, shore to shore and shore back to ship. now, those two -- the programs for the lcat and for the lcu replacement, absolutely essential. >> okay. well, let me move to ark 2 ark d -- a2ad, general berg.
and, admiral, you may want to join in here. much has been made of emerging anti-access and aerial denial, a2ad, capabilities of certain countries. to what extent are emerging capabilities a concern for the amphibious assail? assault? >> i think the a2ad threat, which is well publicized, drives you towards a place where amphibious forces, the amphibious capability is even more important. and the reason for that is you're going to need in a layeredded offense and defense, you're going to need inside forces that are survivable and lethal both. so the ability to project power from a sea base, a southern ship, a platform from the sea, onto either an advanced naval base or to secure a commons
area, for example, that might be contested, any of those are possible missions that maritime opponent commander might need to do. his job one is to keep the commons open for friendly use and perhaps deny them for a threat. so the ability -- if you did not have an amphibious force, said another way, senator, if you look that capability, then your only option is to bring it from some other land, some other praise. >> are we talking -- is our assumption 5 miles? 25 miles? what's the distance? >> it's going to be completely threat-dependent. it's going to be dependent on the operating environment that that commander sees in front of him. >> admiral, do you have anything to add? >> i would only add that aqa2 is one of those -- a2ad is one of
those we track closely. it's probably less range-dependent than sector-dependent, is kind of how we look at it. and the ability to operate in those environments creates, you know, advantages and disadvantages depending on how your, how you're outfitted to deal with it. >> senator king. >> thank you. we're doing multiyear procurements, block buys for combatants, maintaining an industrial base. do we have a plan for recapitalizing ready reserve force? if we can't get the supply to them, that's a problem. where does that stand? >> i'll, i'll talk about et, i'll say generically, and then admiral merz can talk about it from a requirements standpoint. yes, that's absolutely something we're going to have to work our way through in the coming years. right now we're looking at it in a combination of extending some service life extension of our current assets through the
authorities given and through the committee. some potential procurement of some used assets, and then looking at a future ship, common hold, champ program that could potentially provide some new build assets going into the future. and so we're looking at all three of those lines of operation. on champs specifically, we're preparing by the end of the year to put an rfp out and bring on multiple potential builders to do similar so to what we've done with frigate and get into an iterative requirements kind of solution, space to try and, you know, lock down more of the specific requirements for that, for that whole. admiral america erz -- merz's team has been working on it. this would enable us to bring in the industry team early and then get boo some iterative design
requirement trade-offs so that we could then set our final requirements for what a champ program would look like in the outyears. >> this is sort of a parenthetical, but we go home and are asked to defend the defense budget and costs. and one of the things that i've tried to get across is we're recapitalizing a lot of -- submarines are the biggest example. and in the nuclear area. it would be helpful, i think, if you guys could quantify that to some extent. in other words, what is ordinary cost of operations, and was recapitalization? the columbia class would be the prime example. because i think those are two different subjects that the public needs to understand that we're, in a sense, paying bills that haven't been paid because some of these platforms are 40, 50 years old. and the air force, of course, we've got all kinds of situations where the planes are a lot older than the pilots. that would be helpful, for the
record, if you would -- >> yes, sir. happy to -- both answer that and then talk in those terms going forward. >> what is operation and maintenance versus what is recapitalization. a couple of other questions. on the cruiser, we're talking about the frill gates. are you -- frigate. are you thinking of following a similar program on the new cruiser? it might be a pre-existing design rather than a clean sheet of paper? >> sir, i think we're on the early end of defining all the parameters around that. admiral merz can talk from the requirements side. their team has been working the initial requirements -- >> it just seems to me to the extent that we have hull designs, we don't necessarily have to modify. that's much better for the taxpayers, it's faster. >> yeah. there's advantages to the degree that we have holes that we can meet the requirement. >> yes, sir. we were very pleased with how the frigate's definition phase
went. >> can you come up a little closer? >> that'll certainly -- >> that'll inform the process. >> that'll certainly inform the large surface command process. it really just comes down to the swap that we spoke about on the dbg-1000, whether or not any requirements definition face on whether we can -- phase on whether it was going to give us enough volume -- [inaudible conversations] >> one of the requirements for all these new platforms is that they be easily modifiable. it is a 50-year hull, but you might have 10 years of software -- >> sir, the way we say it is we can't help we make great ships that are around 50 yearses, but this whole adaptability piece -- >> i would think that would be a design criteria. >> yes, sir. >> there was some testimony -- not testimony, a question in the full committee ming this morning about the -- meeting this
morning about the john s. mccain, and it's about to come back into service. it's taken a long time. why did that take so long to get a ship -- i mean, you could have practice practically have built a new ship in the time it took to repair that ship. >> yes, sir. and i think that points to our need for stabling and predictable funding and programming that allows us then to build both the industrial base and the repair base that can handle -- >> was it a problem, was there no place to fix it? was it just a yard that -- >> i think this it was, i thinke of those repairs are more complex than they first appear looking at them from the outside. you know, fifths has had -- it's a pri tremendous job to repair some of it. and then you've got to work it into a fairly cob -- constrained
right now either new build or repair yard work force and capacity. and so my intent over time is as we look at this 30-year ship repair plan and 30-year shipbuilding plan, if we can provide stability in those efforts, we can get the work force and the capacity built up which then would allow us more quickly to address emergent work than we currently have right now with, you know, at the central base report we submitted to the president on the executive order one of it findings was we do not have a lot of excess capacity either in new build or in repair. and so when an emergent repair comes out that you weren't planning for, you tonight have a lot of assets to -- you don't have a lot of asset without some impact. >> one follow up, if i might, mr. chair. i'd appreciate it if you could supply for the committee by
class of ships what percentage of the fleet of that class is available at any 2007 moment. in other words, i think it would be interesting and important to know because if we're able to keep our ships in better repair, we don't -- it can be a savings in the long run. you could end up with the same combat power for less dollars if we maintain and life extend. so i would just like to know fleet availability along the various, the various types of ships and any thoughts you have -- >> yes, sir. happy to provide that for you, and we'll provide it by each class of ship. obviously, a key -- >> do a comparison with the cruise lines ships. >> yes, sir. lots of, lots of different -- >> lots of differences, but
there's certainly one of the things we've been doing last year both particularly in aviation readiness is taking best lessons learned out of that and bringing them -- >> my sense is the private sector does a better job of their capital assets being online. i don't know -- >> this is certainly every opportunity to learn from all that we have relationships with, in fact, we've got a team that has a relationship with carnival cruise lines to look at that very -- >> my question wasn't completely stupid. >> no, sir. absolutely not. >> i was worried. >> we will -- [inaudible conversations] >> how stupid the question was -- [laughter] >> i made a living asking stupid questions. >> could i just add one thought. because we talk about this all the time. the snapshot, whether it's aviation or ships, that we provide to you is going to be skewed because we deferred maintenance for years. >> yes. >> so the snapshot will look --
we won't be happy with that snapshot because we knew when we ran those ships and planes hard for a decade, we knew we were going to pay a price on the back side. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> just a follow-up, mr. secretary, your written statement describes corrective measures being taken to address recent issues of welding quality and inadequate testing of missile cubes for the columbia class. can you provide your assessment of the root causes and program impact? >> yes, sir. the challenges weed had with the columbia -- we had with the columbia were on the missile tubes. we had similar issues on missile tubes on the ohio program decades ago, so we had moved those missile tubes very early in the program to prove out the fabrication and welding of those assets. when we got into looking at the
first set of tubes that were manufactured, there were issues with improper inspection of welds which allows -- which led to missile tubes that doesn't fully meet all of the specifications in term os of those -- in terms of those weld designs. that was an issue at the supplier. the plyer did not inspect properly the welds. those then got shipped to the production facility -- >> what were the consequences to that supplier? >> so that supplier is on a fix-priced program. fortunately, we had program those missile tubes with a lot of margin in terms of our schedule, so we currently assess we still have 12-13 months of scheduled margin even with all of the missile tube repairs. and so we don't assess that we'll impact the columbia with
build schedule which is critical for us. it's a very important issue. one of the issues it points to, we talked about the collins shaft issue as well, the createty of the supply -- criticality of the supply base. i think since 2000 we documented over 20,000, they call them establishments, that have disappeared from the shipbuilding industrial base. really pointing to that fragility in the supply base. and so that's one of the writers we're really focused on insuring, one, we've got suppliers that are building the quality products we need and, two, anywhere we have some of these single point suppliers, we try and build up their robustness. >> you guys are in the building business and hardware business. not so much in the personnel
business except that you really are. what quality of young americans are stepping forward now, general? and admiral? and we're asking them to handle some pretty state of the art, sophisticated stuff. am i correct? >> yes, sir. our talent's eye-watering. i do a lot of public speaking -- >> eye-watering, yes. >> sir. and whenever the question comes up of the quality of american youth, i just simply say come to sea with us and see them. keeping them from getting bored is probably the biggest challenge. they're or very active, they're very multitasked. they grow up in an environment that they communicate across multiple domains simultaneously. long story i can tell you about my daughter that i use as an example. but they truly are just top shelf individuals. the challenge is it's, you know,
only 1% of americans qualify to serve in the military. all services are competing for that tall rent. it's often the same talent pool that the engineering companies are competing for. so attractive pay, benefits, the training, i know those are the things we continue to press forward to draw on the talent we need of. it's an all-volunteer force, and that makes it a competition. >> general, anything to add? >> i think secretary guertz spoke earlier about not taking the industrial base for granted. he didn't say it in those words, but that was what he inferred, and i think you could say the same thing about the reout cuting effort that the sphafses have to do. that -- that's an everyday effort. i agree with him that the caliber of high school graduates and college students that come
into the service, we've never seen anything at that level. but this is also something you can't take for granted. it's a everyday battle. and i think in my personal experience, i won't speak for anyone else, my personal experience the only time we're going to have to worry about that, really, is if they ever sense that the country is not behind them, is not supportive of them in some way, then we ought to be worried. but as long as there's patience, they are very well qualify offed. >> thank you very much, gentlemen. we appreciate your service and your information to us today. and if there's nothing else or there's some magic words i'm supposed to say? >> [inaudible] >> oh, i'm going to -- met me just add, senator king is right about the scheduling. secretary hirono, in spite of her best intentions, is not going to be able to make it to the hearing at all.
midnight. negotiations continue on a bill that can pass both chambers of congress and get the approval of the president. watch live coverage of the house on c-span and the senate here on c-span2. >> saturday at 8 p.m. eastern, conversations with three retiring members of congress; republicans peter roskam, john duncan and mike coffman all reflect on their time in congress. >> you know, we go on our app, we go on our devices, we want things quickly. and yet jefferson wrote this 14 years after he wrote the declaration of independence: the ground of liberty is to be gained by inches. we must be content what we can get from time to time and eternally press forward for what is yet to get. it takes time to persuade men even to do what is for their own good. so my point is that we culturally need to step back and say, look, these things take
time. we've got to take small steps in order to get there. >> my big thing, to think that we've spent trillions now on these wars and that the war in afghanistan is now going on its, you know, it's 18 years, i think it's just ridiculous, and i think also these wars and our foreign policy has caused us to have more enemies than we would have had. they've done more harm than good. >> but in the congress of the united states, i believe in the house of representatives there's simply still -- even with the reforms that nancy pelosi has pledged to accept based on my counterparts and the problem solvers' caucus, i believe there's too much power in too few hands with too little getting done for the american people, and i fear that is not going to change. >> watch saturday at 8 p.m. eastern on c-span and c-span.org. and listen with the free c-span radio app.
>> actress felicity jones, who plays supreme court justice ruth bader ginsburg in the movie "on the basis of sex," talks about gender discrimination and equality at politico's women rules summit in washington d.c. ms. -- [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> hi. >> hello. [laughter] >> hello. hey, everybody. [laughter] >> so i am brooke minters, the executive producer of video for politico, and i hope you guys enjoyed your conversations during the community-building