To fully achieve the affordability goals established for Centurion, I believe it will be necessary to pursue a more measured development program geared to thoroughly exploiting new technologies to ensure that significant savings are realized. An extension of Centurion development will, in turn, require the procurement of a small number of Seawolf subs to sustain the submarine industrial base.
Although the Centurion COEA was received too late to affect this year's Defense appropriations markup, I proposed, as a Conference matter, transferring funds from various Centurion accounts to the submarine industrial base line, leaving only enough Centurion R&D funds to maintain the level of effort necessary to preserve core submarine design capabilities. Accompanying language would have required that, prior to the release of funds, the Navy to report on the cost-effectiveness, particularly over the FYDP, of using pooled fiscal year 1994 Centurion funds to: First, partially offset the cost of completing the SSN-23; or second, continue Centurion development at the current pace. The Navy would have been further required to reflect in the fiscal year 1995 defense budget request the proposed use of fiscal year 1994 funds.
Senators are familiar with the overall funding crisis in the shipbuilding and conversion, Navy, account, so I will not belabor the point. At a minimum sustaining rate of roughly 1 boat every 2 years, a rate that will protect the current submarine industrial base, the Seawolf has a unit cost of $2.35 billion. For $3.5 billion-plus in development, a less capable Centurion is projected to cost $1.4 billion per unit at a rate of 1.5-2 boats per year. Even if these projected costs prove accurate Centurion will, at a minimum, require almost twice the funding of Seawolf, $4.2 billion-plus versus ª$2.5 billion every 2 years.
By continuing to build Seawolf at a minimal rate and delaying Centurion, we can save money outright, then save additional funds by amortizing Seawolf production and O&S costs over a greater number of hulls, protect the industrial base, manage the total fleet size better, and engage in a measured development of Centurion geared to generating true savings.
Understandably, my colleagues were reluctant to consider such a sweeping proposal during conference. Fortunately, the rescission bill expected in January and the Somalia supplemental offer other opportunities to implement my plan. If accepted, we can put submarine development and acquisition spending on a realistic, affordable footing.