`LENNON REPORT' (Senate - August 12, 1992)

[Page: S12730]

Mr. D'AMATO. Mr. President, The `Navy Report on the New Attack Submarine,' or `Lennon Report', outlined a concept study for Centurion that explored the relationship between size and military capability in three displacement ranges: First, 5,000-6,000 tons; second, 6,000-8,500 tons, and third 8,500 tons. No designs above 8,500 tons were seriously considered, because, in that range, it made more sense to simply continue building the Seawolf. Designs in the 5,000-6,00 range, one of 5,007 tons and the other of 5,800 tons, were rejected at the low end for shock, firefighting, equipment redundancy, and bulkhead design to collapse depth inadequacies and at the high end for speed and missile launch rate shortcomings. The report concluded that designs in the 6,000-8,500 range offered the ideal combination of capabilities.

I was perplexed by one aspect of the Navy's findings: The speed of the 5,800 ton design. A mere 200 tons separates a design that falls well short of the Chief of Naval Operations; minimum speed requirement for the Centurion from a design that comfortably meets the CNO's requirement. My question is, what happened to the hull form, reactor, and main propulsion unit of a 6,000 ton design to drive performance down to the levels projected for a 5,800 ton submarine? What combination of weight, diameter, power, speed, and efficiency in a 5,800 ton design could cause such a precipitous decline in capability as compared to a 6,000 ton design? These questions need to be answered, and I intend to put them to the Navy.

By now, some may be asking: What difference does it make whether Centurion is 5,800, or 6,000, or 7,000 tons? The difference is cost and performance, but the key is cost. The success or failure of the Centurion Program boils down to one crucial element: Affordability.

The `Lennon Report' argues that `the primary method of reducing the acquisition cost--of submarines--is to carefully match military capabilities to operational and mission needs.' This differs substantially from earlier Navy testimony that major savings in submarine costs can only be achieved by significantly limiting size and displacement. According to the Navy, construction cost, which represents two-thirds of the acquisition cost of a submarine, `is directly relatable and proportional to displacement'. For that reason, I would argue that, because affordability is the one nonnegotiable characteristic of the Centurion, holding displacement to the lowest possible level is critical.

I am very concerned that the Navy has given short shrift to designs in the 5,000-6,000 ton range. If submarines in this range cannot meet the minimum standards necessary to survive the threat of the 21st century, then the Navy needs to explain carefully, thoroughly, and openly just what the deficiencies of low end subs are? If a larger boat is in order, the Navy needs to be equally forthcoming in explaining its advantages. The `Lennon Report' is an important first step, but it is only the first step. I look forward to a lengthy and detailed exchange between Congress and the Navy over the next several years on this and other matters related to Centurion.