Navy's Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile Force Is Highly Ready

LCD-78-429: Published: Dec 21, 1978. Publicly Released: Jul 8, 1981.

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The Navy maintains the submarine-launched ballistic missile force in a high state of readiness because of its strategically important deterrent mission. The Navy achieves this favorable readiness posture through special emphasis on management, staffing, equipment, maintenance, and supply support. Costs to design, procure, operate, and maintain this system average over $4 billion annually.

GAO was unable to verify force readiness in the usual manner because examination of submarine and missile operations at sea was not practical, access to specifically requested Navy reports was denied, and significant delays were experienced in obtaining requested data. Interviews with top level Navy officials netted only general information on operations.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: GAO has evaluated enough information to recommend that the Department of Defense take appropriate actions to: (1) determine the feasibility of adopting ballistic missile submarine maintenance and supply program benefits to the less ready Navy attack submarines and surface ships, and establish a system for communicating future benefits on a continuing basis; (2) develop and study alternatives to the two-crew concept; (3) explore alternatives to increase use of ballistic missile submarine off-crew personnel; (4) determine whether the TRIDENT deployment delays will necessitate deferring the planned retirement of POLARIS submarines to maintain an adequate readiness posture; and (5) start developing a system which would relate costs and risks of varying degrees of readiness for the submarine-launched ballistic missile system, and provide information to Congress on acceptable risks involved and funding options.

    Agency Affected:


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