Caldwell: Los Angeles-class sub refueling will start with Cheyenne in 2023

By Justin Katz / November 7, 2018 at 2:47 PM

The Navy will begin refueling the first Los Angeles-class submarine starting with the Cheyenne (SSN-773) in 2023, according to the director of the naval nuclear propulsion program.

Adm. James Caldwell, chief of naval reactors, told attendees today at the National Submarine League Symposium the Navy is working to modernize its facilities at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, ME, to support the refueling effort.

The refueling is expected to extend the service life of the submarine by 10 years, Navy acquisition executive Hondo Geurts told Congress in March.

Geurts said at the time the Navy would evaluate its performance on the first submarine, and then consider refueling up to four more vessels. However, Caldwell said today the Navy will consider refueling between five and seven Los Angeles-class submarines.

Rear Adm. Michael Jabaley, then program executive officer for submarines, testified alongside Geurts in March that Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered submarines are not designed for "ease of refueling." But the Navy has become more confident in its ability to refuel the Los Angeles class based on its work with the Ohio-class submarines, he said.

"The biggest technical risks are taking a ship that was going to serve to 33 years and extending it for an additional 10 years," Jabaley told Congress.