Top U.S. Navy officials have expressed confidence that the Pentagon and Congress will approve funding for the $100B Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarines program through a special account outside the service's annual shipbuilding budget, USNI News reported Tuesday.
The service expects the extra funding to accelerate construction of the 355-ship fleet, slated to begin in fiscal year 2021.
Vice Adm. Bill Merz, deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems, said discussions between the Navy, Defense Department and lawmakers over the Columbia program are “becoming more active.”
He noted recent meetings focused on the impact of the proposed special shipbuilding account.
The Navy said an alternative funding for the Columbia-class ships will allow the service to focus its normal budget on growing its fleet of amphibious ships, attack submarines, and large and small combatants, among other assets.
Navy acquisition chief James Geurts also noted that annual funding should remain stable to support naval personnel, maintenance and operations of public and private shipyards and other lifecycle costs.