If the Defense Department has to operate under a year-long Continuing Resolution (CR), the Navy would have a “dramatic impact” that includes cutting $500 million from the Columbia-class submarine program, delay maintenance on several submarines and aircraft carriers, lower aircraft and weapons procurement and recruiting many fewer sailors.

If the current CR that lasts through Feb. 18 is extended a full year, “while our peer competitors move forward with advancing technologies, building their capacity, we will not. We will be decreasing our pace with some areas coming to a complete stop. The CR creates a smaller, less ready and less capable, less lethal force,” Rear Adm. John Gumbleton, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget (FMB), said during a press call on Jan.25.

“On the industrial base, there’s…no sector that’s not going to be impacted. So, if you’re in the ship construction business, you know, Columbia is going to receive a half a billion dollars less money,” he said.

The Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine will replace the aging Ohio-class submarines and service officials have been calling it the Navy’s top acquisition priority for years. The Navy admits the program has little remaining margin for error to start patrols when the Ohio-class submarines start retiring.

“That’s our number one priority program for the last several years and the margins are tight. And here we are, we’re going to fund it less than half a billion to plan. So, yes, it has a very much potential to impact that schedule. And we know that first boat’s going to deliver a few years out. And so hopefully there’ll be an opportunity to make this up,” Gumbleton said.

“And hopefully, we won’t have a year-long CR. But it’s already a stressed, low-margin program. So that would not be positive,” he continued.

He listed other new start program acquisition cuts or delays if the CR remains through the rest of FY 2022.

“Because it’s a new start, we would not be able to begin the next hull on the [Constellation-class] frigate. Some additional new starts are the T-AGOS ship, our intent to buy three used sea-lift ships, an oiler, and two Ship-to-Shore Connectors. So those are all examples of things that are not going to happen [under a full-year CR].”

Gumbleton said on aviation, the Navy and Marine Corps intended to buy seven more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and six MQ-9 Predators for the Marine Corps and advance their force design initiative.

Artist rendering of the future Columbia-class nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), which will replace the Ohio-class submarines. (Illustration: U.S. Navy)
Artist rendering of the future Columbia-class nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), which will replace the Ohio-class submarines. Construction work on the submarine program helped drive first quareter sales at GD. (Illustration: U.S. Navy)

“These things are not going to happen in a year-long CR.”

“Then, on the weapons front, it’s multiple weapons that have increased order quantity – whether we’re talking about JASSMs, Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, Naval Strike Missile, the Joint Air-Ground Missile. All these weapon systems that our industrial base was planning to buy or manufacture for us that we’re planning to have in our inventory are not going to happen,” he added.

Gumbleton said the Navy and Marine Corps would also see $2.5 billion less value in the operations and maintenance account with a CR, with impacts on submarine and aircraft carrier maintenance as well as cutting flying hours.

He said given the possibility of receiving normal funding, the services are continuing to spend money like they have it “because we’ve been here before.”

“And so what does that mean? Where are we going to take risk? And so we’re going to specifically not take risk on our forward-deployed forces right now.”

However, if the year-long CR materializes, “the dramatic impacts would be, we would not do maintenance on five submarines and two aircraft carriers. And we would reduce the flying hour accounts to all our pilots, Navy and Marine Corps, by 10 or 20 percent, in the last quarter and a half of the fiscal year.”

Gumbleton said he directed the fleets and Fleet Marine Force to conduct operations as if there will not be a year-long CR.

“We are not going to slow down. So that’s why we have this dramatic impact on our operations and maintenance should we have that result come to fruition here sometime in April, for example. And so, therefore, our dramatic changes to absorb that $2.5 billion less value is we would have to not do those work on those submarines, the five of them.”

On research and development (R&D) appropriation, Gumbleton said the shortfall is $2.5 billion.

“And so the Navy and Marine Corps will be forced with a very hard decision should we have a year-long CR. That increase in funding, which is an 11 percent increase from one year to the next. The dramatic rise in those programs was to pay for Conventional Prompt Strike, new design SSN and some classified programs.”

Now the services would have to choose how to maintain priorities to invest in the future fight, to maintain modernization efforts while focusing on competing with China and what programs to cut to balance the $2.5 billion.

Gumbleton said the Navy has sent the demand signal to industry developing certain programs for the R&D accounts. 

“And, so now we would have to relook at the entire portfolio to balance $2.5 billion reduction. And so, at the offset there would be a tremendous impact to our modernization efforts because of that reduction.”

He also said how a full-year CR would affect payroll.

Gumbleton noted in the FY ‘22 defense authorization bill, Congress enacted a 2.7 percent pay raise, but with a CR the service has $1.5 billion less appropriated for it. The result is cutting recruitment from 31,000 new sailors to 8,000 and cutting 37,000 permanent change of station moves.

“And so if you’re a second class petty officer or lance corporal and you’re stationed overseas, and you thought you were going to come back, stateside, maybe we’re going to defer that move until next year, because we can’t afford that.”

The Navy Department will also not be able to offer a reenlistment bonus to entice sailors to stay.

“And so if you’re that second class petty officer, you’re coming up at the end of your enlistment, you thought you might be competitive for a reenlistment bonus, well, that would not be the case.”