USN and Industry Must Make Better Case for More Subs

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Since 07-10-05

Excerpt from NSL UPDATE 06-15-05

By Christopher P. Cavas, Defense News, 9 Jun 05

Key figures in the U.S. Navy's submarine construction and warfare communities admitted the force faces challenges in convincing the public that submarines are worth major investments.

"Our silent service has been very silent," said John Casey, president of General Dynamics Electric Boat, which builds Virginia-class nuclear attack submarines along with Northrop Grumman Newport News.

"I don't think [submariners] are the best marketers in the world, frankly," Casey said. "There are a lot of other programs that are much more public, much better understood."

"There is a lot of misperception about [submarine] capability in the public domain," said Mike Petters, Casey's counterpart at Northrop Grumman Newport News.   Petters said the public's perception of how many submarines the Navy has is probably significantly higher than the true number - just over 50.

"It's incumbent upon us to try to make that message and let people understand where the challenges are in terms of quality in submarines and capabilities," Petters said, "and what it takes to be able to do that sort of thing."

Rear Adm. Joe Walsh, director of the Navy's Submarine Warfare Division, agreed with Petters and Casey, adding that it was difficult from a national security standpoint to provide details of how submarines are contributing to the global war on terrorism.

Casey, Petters and Walsh spoke June 8 before the opening of the Submarine League's annual symposium in Alexandria, Va.