The Navy is planning two different paths forward following the completion of the 12th Columbia-class submarine, both of which involve keeping the line open, according to a service official.
Rear Adm. John Tammen, undersea warfare requirements director, said the service will base its decision on the needs of U.S. Strategic Command.
The first choice would be to produce more Columbia-class submarines, beyond the 12-submarine minimum laid out in the latest nuclear posture review.
If STRATCOM does not request more submarines, then Tammen said the service is developing a "large-volume host platform" which will have "the ability to host vehicles onboard inside that center section" of the submarine. He did not provide further details because the service is still developing the concept.
"Depending on what happens in the strategic environment, we have two paths forward on the Columbia line," he told attendees today at the Naval Submarine League Symposium.
Separately, the admiral said the Navy stood up a sustainment working group for Columbia's predecessor, the Ohio-class submarine, citing the fact the Navy has never had a submarine with a 42-year service life.
The group is "looking at those first Ohio-class [guided missile submarines] and getting everything we can from the maintenance and teardowns we're doing on those, and rolling it forward into the Ohio-class SSBNs to make sure they make the 42-year commitment we've made to STRATCOM."
That group was established earlier in the year, a Navy spokeswoman told Inside the Navy in a Nov. 8 statement.