The head of the SSBN fleet, Rear Admiral Richard Breckenridge, says the size of the fleet is really about geography.
By Hans M. Kristensen
In a blog and video on the U.S. Navy web site Navy Live, the head of the U.S. submarine force Rear Admiral Richard Breckenridge claims that the United States cannot reduce its fleet of nuclear ballistic missile submarines further.
This is the third time in three months that Breckenridge has seen a need to go online to defend the size of the SSBN fleet. The first time was in May in reaction to my article about declining SSBN patrols. The second time was in June when he argued that the design chosen for the next-generation SSBN was the only option.
Now Breckenridge argues that the number of operational SSBNs cannot be reduced further if the U.S. Navy is to be able to conduct continuous deployments in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
Three public interventions in as many months shows that the plan to spend $70 billion-plus to build a new class of 12 SSBNs is under pressure, and Breckenridge acknowledges that much: “The heat inside the Pentagon right now is probably just as bad” as the summer heat outside and “with sequestration and the fiscal crisis and the budgetary impacts on the DOD topline, there’s a lot of folks looking at how low we can go with the SSBN force.”
But the 12 planned next-generation SSBNs “is the floor,” Breckenridge claims. Continue Reading →