Navy Ships:

Status of SSN-21 Ship Construction Program

NSIAD-90-163: Published: Apr 19, 1990. Publicly Released: Apr 19, 1990.

Additional Materials:


Martin M. Ferber
(202) 275-6504


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

GAO reviewed the Navy's Seawolf Attack Submarine (SSN-21) construction program, focusing on: (1) the program's status; (2) SSN-21 performance capabilities; and (3) the Navy's ability to maintain the SSN-21 force structure.

GAO found that: (1) the Navy used two shipyards to design SSN-21 and was proceeding with its construction plans; (2) during the research and development phase, the Navy experienced some program cost increases and revised its delivery schedule; (3) since the lead submarine would not be available for testing until 1995, the Navy could not determine whether it would meet the program's overall performance goals; (4) the Navy planned the SSN-21 shipbuilding design to achieve its 100-submarine force goal; and (5) the Navy may not achieve its SSN force goals because of fiscal constraints.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress changed the law to specify low-rate initial production of naval vessels, 10 U.S.C. 2400(c).

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to either: (1) ensure that SSN-21 and its combat system undergo operational testing and evaluation before proceeding past low-rate initial production, as required in the law; or (2) seek legislative relief that would change the law to either exempt shipbuilding in general or the SSN-21 program specifically.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Jul 16, 2020

Jun 25, 2020

Jun 11, 2020

Apr 28, 2020

Mar 9, 2020

Jan 28, 2020

Oct 8, 2019

Jul 23, 2019

Looking for more? Browse all our products here