House Authorizes Second Virginia-class Submarine, Cuts $1B from Delayed Frigate Program

House authorizers added a second Virginia-class submarine in their mark of the Fiscal Year 2025 defense policy bill, a departure from the Biden administration’s decision to ask for only one attack boat in the annual request.

The House Armed Services Committee chairman’s mark of the bill, released Monday, shows lawmakers approving $1 billion for another Virginia-class attack boat. The HASC seapower and projection forces subcommittee’s mark of the bill provides the Navy with incremental funding authority to buy the second boat.

“For the second time in less than 5 years, the Navy has surprised both Congress and industry by removing a submarine from the budget request that had previously been planned for inclusion,” the HASC seapower panel’s mark reads. “This sporadic funding will only further stress an already stressed industrial base while also delaying the time it will take to reach the Navy’s stated goal of 66 fast attack submarines (SSNs).”

Lawmakers on the seapower subcommittee also took issue with the Navy’s proposal to buy one attack submarine when the service committed to purchasing two attack boats and one Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine per year so the industrial base can gear up for an increased demand and plans to sell attack boats to the Royal Australian Navy for the AUKUS agreement.

“To renege on that commitment in just the first year after achieving the needed enabling legislation sends an inconsistent message to our allies and a talking point for our adversaries propaganda,” the seapower mark reads.

Navy officials have said that the industrial base needs to build 2.33 attack boats and one boomer per year in order to sell to the Australians. Industry is currently building 1.3 attack boats per year.

When explaining their decision to ask for one boat, Navy officials cited the delays and backlog in the Virginia program and argued a multi-bullion dollar injection into the submarine industrial base would help stabilize suppliers and prepare them for the increased demand.

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