The U.S. Senate last night passed the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 by a vote of 83-11, clearing the way for it to go to the White House for signature into law. It provides $45 billion more for defense than called for in the Biden administration’s budget request.
The NDAA also serves as a legislative vehicle for a number of non-defense authorizations, including several major authorization bills from other committees. The resulting 4,408 page document is no quick read, but something that emerges is that on page 3,979 it says that “$167,200,000 is authorized for the third Polar Security Cutter” and “$150,000,000 is authorized for the acquisition or procurement of an available icebreaker.”
That would appear to clear the way for the purchase of an existing commercially available polar icebreaker that would be used to augment the Coast Guard’s polar icebreaking capacity until its new Polar Security Cutters enter service. As we reported earlier, the only vessel meeting the requirements set out in a Coast Guard RFI posted in May is Edison Chouest Offshore’s M/V Aiviq built in 2012 for use on the Shell Alaska drilling campaign. (Our story on that, incidentally, got more reader interest than any story we posted this year).
So far as Navy shipbuilding goes, there look to be few surprises (though in 4,408 pages there could be a few). The NDAA authorizes 11 battle force ships, an increase from the eight battle force ships the Navy sought in its original budget request and prevents it from decommissioning 12 ships. Here’s an extract from a summary released by the Senate Armed Services Committee:
- Authorizes multiyear or block buy contracts for the procurement of up to 25 ship to shore connectors, 15 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, eight Lewis-class oilers, five amphibious ships, and CH-53K helicopters.
- Authorizes $32.6 billion for Navy shipbuilding, an increase of $4.7 billion, which includes the procurement of 11 battle force ships: three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers; two Virginia-class submarines; two expeditionary fast transports; one Constellation-class frigate; one San Antonio-class amphibious ship; one John Lewis- class oiler; and one Navajo-class towing, salvage and rescue ship.
- Authorizes an additional $2.2 billion for a third Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.
- Authorizes an additional $289 million for LHA-10 advance procurement.
- Authorizes an additional $250 million for LPD-33 advance procurement.
- Authorizes an additional $250 million for surface combatant supplier development.
- Requires certain FFG-62 class vessels to be capable of carrying and employing Tomahawk and Standard Missile-6 missiles.
- Authorizes an additional $25 million for continued research on the sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM-N).
- Prescribes DDG(X) acquisition elements in the areas of government and industry collaboration, competitive incentives, early technology maturation, and workforce stability.
- Mandates the inclusion of a Navy shipbuilding workforce development special incentive in Navy shipbuilding new construction contracts.
- Prohibits the early retirement of 12 vessels in fiscal year 2023, including: five littoral combat ships, four dock landing ships, two expeditionary transfer docks, and one cruiser.
- Authorizes an increase of $405.5 million for urgent enhancement of naval mining and delivery capabilities.
- Authorizes full funding of the budget request for Columbia-class submarines.
- Authorizes full funding of the budget request for two Virginia-class submarines.
- Authorizes an increase of $188.9 million for advanced undersea capability investments.
- Requires a briefing on existing requirements and capabilities for offensive and defensive mining, as well as potential capability and production capacity improvements. Aircraft Procurement