I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones
-Albert Einstein (contemplating nuclear devastation)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Shiver me timbers... SSBN(X) Ahoy!$!$!$

There's a new Trident on the horizon!  The OHIO class submarines currently sailing the Seven Seas, ready to incinerate a continent or two if so ordered by President Obama, are to be replaced by a whole new fleet of ballistic missile subs.

You know that when General Dynamics Electric Boat Corp. of Groton, Connecticut is awarded a $1,848,606,051 cost-plus-fixed-fee with special incentives contract for design work and products for the new class of ballistic missile submarines, the die is cast and it's full steam ahead!!!

According to today's announcement "This contract includes design work for the Ohio Replacement program and continues the design and development of the joint U.S. Navy/U.K. Common Missile Compartment; shipbuilder and vendor component and technology development; engineering integration; concept design studies; cost reduction initiatives using a design for affordability process; and full scale prototype manufacturing and assembly. Additionally, this contract provides for engineering analysis, should-cost evaluations, and technology development and integration efforts. Other efforts contemplated under this contract include the continued design and development of U.K. unique Common Missile Compartment efforts."

Did you catch that mention of the collaboration between the U.S. and United Kingdom?  The British government is looking to replace its Trident fleet (four submarines) and they will continue to lease Trident II D-5 missiles from the U.S. (and contractor Lockheed-Martin of course) for the new subs.  Is that a sweet deal (for defense contractors) or what?  8 percent of the current contract is for the work involving the U.K.

The work will be spread between four different locations and states - Groton, Conn. (91 percent); Newport News, Va. (7 percent); Quonset, R.I. (1 percent); and Bath, Maine (1 percent). Once this project really gets rolling I imagine many more states (and Congressional districts $$$) will be involved.

The "cost-plus-fixed-fee with special incentives contract for design work and " for what is known as SSBN(X) could reach $1,995,831,561 if all the options are exercised (and you can bet they will be). As for the nearly $2 billion figure, bear in mind that this is only "design work." The final tally, once these seagoing nuclear missile launchers are all built, will easily come in at nearly $100 billion (source: Congressional Research Office).

Just think what the U.S. could do for human needs with $100 billion rather than building a weapons system that has been designed for one purpose only - large scale nuclear war (or what the government calls "deterrence."  The Cold War ended decades ago, and with it any possible justification for the doctrine of deterrence.  Where is the justification for a Cold War weapons system in today's world???

Rather than automatically pursuing a Trident replacement, both the U.S. and U.K. governments should do a serious and objective analysis of the justification for this weapons system.  The results might be surprising and not at all what the Pentagon, weapons makers and many in Congress want to hear.  This is some major pork (all 20,810 long tons of displacement, and $100 billion in construction) and everybody involved wants a piece of it.  It's time for everybody feeding from this trough to go vegetarian!!!

Stay tuned for more on this wasteful program (that will only increase the risk of nuclear war) coming in early 2013.

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