The Navy's TRIDENT Fleet:

Some Success but Several Major Problems

PSAD-78-31: Published: Apr 7, 1978. Publicly Released: Apr 7, 1978.

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The TRIDENT submarine and missile fleet is a sea-based weapons system designed to deter nuclear attack. The Electric Boat Division of the General Dynamics Corporation was awarded the construction contract for the first submarine in July 1974. The Navy exercised its option for three more submarines; a contract for a fifth submarine, with options for up to two more, was awarded to Electric Boat in June 1977. The Lockheed Missiles and Space Company was awarded the prime contract for full-scale development and production of 52 TRIDENT I missiles in August 1974; the missile was aporoved for production through May 1977. After initial successful flight tests, further production was authorized.

The program faces serious schedule delays because of low productivity, a shortage of skilled workers, and late receipt of materials. The continuing cash drain at Electric Boat may become a more serious overriding problem. At the time of the review, the Navy was reporting a cost estimate of $22.2 billion for a 13-ship program. As of December 31, 1977, the Navy reported a 14-ship program at a cost of $25.1 billion. The Navy now estimates that the first submarine delivery date may not be until April 1980, a year behind the contract delivery date. It is too soon to determine whether the October 1977 reorganization at Electric Boat will overcome production problems and have a favorable effect on its financial position. Lockheed has indicated that unplanned costs for the design, development, and production of 52 TRIDENT I missiles could reach $50 million and has stated that the extra cost will be offset by reducing labor costs. Navy officials do not know whether Lockheed can recover this overrun.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Matter: The Secretary of Defense should provide the Congress with detailed cost estimates of the alternative force levels being considered by the Navy. Because of the financial situation at Electric Boat, the Secretary of Defense should periodically provide a special report to the principal congressional committees on the financial status of Electric Boat.


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