No, Our SSN's are not Ready for a Great Pacific War
how to make a long war longer
A couple of weeks ago we mentioned an unmovable challenge to any conflict with the People’s Republic of China west of the International Date Line; geography.
We know this war, should it come, will be a long war, a costly war, a war that may very well spin out of control in to a world war - as such things tend to do.
Though we have lost our quantitive edge and have but a fraction of the industrial capacity of the PRC, we like to whisper comfortable words to ourselves about two things; 1) A qualitative edge; 2) Our SSNs.
#1 is quickly narrowing and we have limited control slowing it (decades of dual-use technology transfer for both profit, naivety, and a bit of espionage have made the PRC’s job easier. Giving PRC nationals many of our limited STEM graduate positions at our best institutions of higher learning helped too.)
What about #2? That is 99.9% in our control. In a dyspeptic after effect of the three decade triumph of the Cult of Efficiency, we have created a nuclear and submarine industrial base that is exquisitely unable to perform its duties at peace, and it is clearly not ready for any kind of conflict longer than a few months, if not weeks.
In a fashion, we are not just lying to ourselves, Congress, and the American people - we are believing our own lies.
The old saw, “It takes three to make one” is true; to have one deployed, one needs to be in maintenance, one is in workups - but we should be so lucky.
In FY08 we had 51 SSN with 40 operationally ready.
15-years later in FY23 we have 49 SSN, 96% of the boats we had in FY08, but only 31 operationally ready, only 78% of what we had in FY08.
That is a 4% drop in the SSN we have in inventory, but a 22% fall in what is available to go to war.
We don’t have 2 fewer SSN, we have 9 few SSN.
We are swimming through excuses. A month ago I asked, “Build the Yards Now.” Enough problem appreciation, we need action. If the Great Lakes yard is no longer politically feasible, then let’s make North Charleston Great Again … something, anything, now more than later.
This is not a new or unknown problem … it has just gotten worse.
If we are counting on our SSN’s to keep the enemy in port, then we should act like it. They have more ships than we have MK-48. Every boat counts.
Side note: can we QA our reports better? It is “FY09” not “FY29.” I know, I have a ton of typos … but I’m just some pogue pounding on a keyboard during coffee breaks.