naval nuclear propulsion program

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The House Appropriations defense subcommittee pressed the leaders of the Navy and Marine Corps today about how they could meet the national security challenges with shrinking budgets, questioning the survivability of the Littoral Combat Ships, the status of the costly and controversial Joint Strike Fighter and the Navy’s plan to take seven cruisers and possibly… Keep reading →

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CAPITOL HILL: “I think this is a papering-over of their dismantling of the Navy,” House Armed Services seapower subcommittee chairman Randy Forbes told me this afternoon. “They aren’t having the courage or the straightforwardness or transparency to call it what it is.” Between the Pentagon’s proposed reduction in warships currently in the water and its… Keep reading →

Reaping the Benefits of a Global Defense Industry

Greg Sanders CSIS photo

  As the Defense Department’s budget goes down, the number of contracts awarded without competitive bids is going up. The share of contracts awarded without competition has risen from 39 percent in 2009 to 42 percent in 2012, according to a report I co-authored with Jesse Ellman and Rhys McCormick on DoD Contracting Trends. The news for… Keep reading →

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PENTAGON: “Sydney, I don’t know how to squeeze it much thinner than we have,” the Chief of Naval Operations said. Adm. Jonathan Greenert was talking about the aircraft carrier fleet, but he could have meant almost any aspect of the Navy’s 2015 budget . “It’s a confusing budget,” the admiral admitted within minutes of sitting… Keep reading →

An Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine.

WASHINGTON: It looks like the scum of scandals that’s afflicted the Air Force nuclear program has spread to the Navy — although top admirals took pains today to emphasize how different the two problems are. In both cases, military personnel cheated on exams to requalify so they could continue to work with nuclear materials. The… Keep reading →


PENTAGON: The Defense Department named new chiefs today for the Naval Air Systems Command, responsible for all naval aircraft acquisitions, and for the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, better known as Naval Reactors (NR), an obscure but powerful organization shard between the Energy Department and the Navy.

Vice Admiral John Richardson, currently the commander of the Atlantic Fleet’s submarine force, will pin on his fourth star as a full admiral when he takes over NR, the job once held by the legendary Hyman Rickover. Rickover exploited NR’s anomalous position — reporting both to the Navy and to the Atomic Energy Commission (which evolved into the Department of Energy) — to build an almost autonomous empire, and the Navy nuclear propulsion program remains a world unto itself. Richardson, like Rickover and outgoing NR chief Adm. Kirkland Donald, is a career submariner, but he’s unusual in the normally reserved submarine community for writing a blog, including a recent, widely cited post on character that pulls together such diverse strands as the Naval academy cheating scandal, Ahu Ghraib, and Plato’s Republic. Keep reading →