Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members:
As you work to complete action on the outstanding fiscal year 2017 funding measures, we write to underscore the urgent need to avoid any disruptions in the Ohio Replacement Program.
As you well know, the replacement of our sea-based strategic deterrent is a top national priority. After years of hard work and intense preparation, steel for the hull plate of the first Ohio Replacement was cut in August of this year, several missile tubes are under construction, and material orders are in place with over 320 suppliers. In addition, the program is poised to enter into its critical next phase of detailed design and early production early next year that will lay the ground work for success in the years ahead.
We are concerned, however, with reports that a continuing resolution beyond December 9, and potentially into next year, may still be on the table. For Ohio replacement, a continuing resolution would have significant impacts, as FY2017 is the first year that procurement funds, about $773 million supporting detailed design and other advanced procurement requirements, appears in the Navy's budget. Without an anomaly to address this issue, the program will face delays in design and production that would have ripple effects throughout its extremely tight timeline, disrupt hiring and material orders throughout the industrial base across several states, and undermine the progress made to date in reducing costs and schedule in this program.
There is no further margin for delay. In recent testimony, the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson told Congress that "if we cannot find a way to begin this [detailed design] work by the beginning of the calendar year, ORP will almost certainly experience unnecessary cost growth, as well as experience delays that threaten the conduct of an existential mission that we have covered continuously since 1960."
We share his concern, and hope that you will consider a funding anomaly to address this matter in any potential continuing resolution. Thank you, as always, for your consideration of our concerns and your support for our nation's defense.