WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — The big news for Hampton Roads was the approval of three new Virginia Class fast attack submarines, thanks to a unanimous vote Tuesday by the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee on the markup for the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.
Until now, it has always been just two submarines per year built by Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding, in partnership with General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut.
"Our subcommittee has worked for the last several years to press the Navy and the Department of Defense leadership to increase the Virginia Class construction to address the looming shortfall in our undersea force of 51 submarines today to 42 in 2026," said Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Connecticut), the panel's chairman.
Rep. Rob Witman (R-Virginia, 1st District) the panel's ranking member, was equally enthusiastic.
"Supporting the administration's request for three Virginia Class submarines and three destroyers is extraordinarily important," he said. "This allows the Navy to more adequately develop the required force structure to meet future challenges."
In all, the Seapower Subcommittee's portion of the $733 billion bill would fund 11 new ships, including the three Virginia-class submarines, three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, one guided-missile frigate, one Amphibious Transport Dock ship, one T-AO 205 oiler and two T-ATS towing, salvage and rescue ships.
Additionally, the markup explicitly rejects the Trump administration's now-canceled budget proposal to kill the planned refueling of the USS Harry S. Truman at Newport News Shipbuilding.
"The budget our subcommittee received would've retired this platform short of the mid-point of its service life, a baffling proposal that was not supported by the Navy's force structure or statutory carrier requirement," said Courtney.
The hope is for the various subcommittees and committees to finish up their work, and to get a final, full House vote on the NDAA by July 4.