NDIA event touts strong sub industry as boon to national security, economy

Colmubia Sub An artist's rendering of the forthcoming Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine

PHILADELPHIA -- The stalwart state of Navy submarine building, present and future, reinforces the backbone of national defense as well as economic bases of communities throughout the country, according to speakers at a recent regional chapter meeting of the National Defense Industrial Association.

During the Prospective Submarine Suppliers’ Conference at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on Nov. 8, presenters maintained that developments, budgets and opportunities in building the current and next class of submarines contribute to a steady and thriving stream within the defense industrial base, said Paul Trenholm, president of Derbyshire Machine & Tool Co., and vice chairman of NDIA’s Delaware Valley Chapter.

The event was co-hosted by the NDIA’s Delaware Valley Chapter and the Submarine Industrial Base Council (SIBC), and was “a great way for our two organizations to really collaborate, and a great way to get the word out to our membership about something that will be meaningful for the next 30 years,” Trenholm said. The Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Philadelphia division and the Pennsylvania State University at the Navy Yard also supported this event.

There are about 5,000 businesses nationally that make up the submarine industrial base, Trenholm said, and the funded total amount for major submarine programs is $10.66 billion over the last five years. Given the technology developed and the engineering behind submarine making, the industrial base spins off jobs that have been very important for rest of economy, he said.

“We have increased the submarine program from one to two boats per year,” he said. “We’ll add to that the Columbia class, which in next decade will require to three boats a year, two Virginia and one Columbia” as the Ohio-class ballistic missile nuclear submarines begin to retire.

The conference was, in part, to share information about preserving the strength of the U.S. submarine industrial base as a vital part of national security. Speakers included Pennsylvania State Sen. Larry Farnese, Navy Capt. Francis Spencer of the Navy Surface Warfare Center in Philadelphia, and Navy Rear Adm. David Goggins, program manager and director of the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program. 

Submarine building is one of the most successful defense programs, because the boats typically make or beat their schedules, thus cutting their costs, often enough to be below budget, Trenholm said. “That is, in large part, because we’ve been able to develop very effective procurement strategies for multiple subs, advanced procurement that has reduced the cost of a sub by 20 percent,” he said.

 According to media reports, the forthcoming Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program is on schedule and dropping in cost despite early challenges, program officials said. It moved into engineering and manufacturing development at the start of the year. And the Associated Press reported Nov. 21 that the Trump administration is expected to sign a bill authorizing $700 billion for the military, of which a large portion will go to Connecticut’s submarine industrial base and more attack submarines.

The Delaware Valley Chapter, which represents the greater Philadelphia area including New Jersey and Pennsylvania, is now working with the NDIA International Division to host an International Defense Cooperation Conference in Philadelphia Friday, April 6, 2018. This event will see to build worldwide maritime defense industrial collaboration; it occurs just before the Navy League’s Sea, Air, Space Expo at National Harbor, Md., April 9-11, 2018.

For media inquiries, please contact NDIA Communications Director Evamarie Socha at esocha@ndia.org or (703) 247-2579.

About NDIA

The National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) is America's leading defense industry association promoting national security. NDIA provides a legal and ethical forum for the exchange of information between industry and government on national security issues. NDIA and its members foster the development of the most innovative and superior equipment, training, and support for warfighters and first responders through its divisions, local chapters, affiliated associations, and events. For more information, visit NDIA.org