Wicker opposes potential cut to Virginia submarine procurement

By Nick Wilson / February 21, 2024 at 5:19 PM

Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS) today signaled his opposition to a possible move by the Navy to reduce Virginia-class submarine procurement to only one vessel in fiscal year 2025.

“Attack submarines are the crown jewels of the U.S. military and critical to deterring China. Slashing production weakens American power. We cannot afford to shortchange our deterrent during this dangerous moment,” Wicker said in a statement. “I urge the administration to reverse course on this harmful decision.”

This announcement from Wicker follows a report by USNI News indicating the Navy will seek fewer Virginia boats in its upcoming FY-25 budget request.

In a statement shared with Inside Defense, a Navy spokesperson said all FY-25 procurement information is still pre-decisional. The service plans to release its official budget request on March 11.

With workforce and supply chain challenges plaguing the submarine industrial base, shipbuilders are currently producing between 1.2 and 1.4 Virginia submarines per year compared to the Navy’s target rate of two vessels. In September, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti said the Navy aims to build at least 1.5 Virginia submarines per year by the end of 2024.

On top of domestic demand for the boats, the AUKUS security partnership will require the United States to transfer at least three of the vessels to Australia in the early 2030s. This increased demand will require industry to further increase production to at least 2.33 Virginia submarines annually, according to Wicker’s release.