The move makes General Dynamics the only sub builder in the U.S.,
giving it a monopoly on U.S. Navy contracts.
"I have been given assurances that there will be no layoffs for
the foreseeable future and that, in fact, the merged company
plans to continue hiring additional personnel," stated
Sen. George Allen of Virginia, a member of the Senate Armed Services
"I have had a chance to be briefed by both sides in this merger,
and though I will watch with great interest as it moves forward,
I am optimistic that this new partnership can be positive for
the thousands of Virginia families who rely on these good-paying
jobs, and for the strategic military interests of our nation."
"I also believe that having two nuclear-based shipbuilding
facilities with the advantages of common ownership will be
beneficial to our national security needs," noted Allen.
However, other defense analysts disagree with Allen's
assessment of the proposed merger. One Capitol Hill national
security advisor expressed concerns over the move, noting that
it could result in higher prices and less capability for the
"The General Dynamics merger with Newport News underscores the
need for America to re-energize our shipbuilding industry,"
stated Al Santoli, national security adviser to Rep.
Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.
"A single contractor bidding on all U.S. Navy submarine
contracts does not sound like good news for the Navy, American
national security or the U.S. taxpayer. Our Navy is already at
the forefront of our greatest security challenge of the 21st
century. We are already spread way too thin."
To make matters worse, the German government indicated that it
intends to block the sale of conventional submarines to Taiwan
proposed by President Bush. The diesel-powered
submarines cannot be manufactured in the United States because
both American submarine builders, General Dynamics and Newport
News, can construct only nuclear submarines.
"The German action to block submarine sales to Taiwan simply
underscores the fact that we need to renew our domestic defense
industry to meet our national security requirements," stated
"The Germans requested our help recently in the Kosovo conflict.
Now they are reluctant to help us when we need their assistance
to stabilize Asia. This shows that we cannot depend on our
allies to supply the needed equipment. We need an indigenous
shipbuilding program, including conventional submarines.
"Many of our Asian allies need modern diesel-class submarines to
defend themselves," noted Santoli.
"They simply cannot afford nuclear submarines. Taiwan has only
four submarines, and two of those are World War II relics that
should be floating museums. Communist China has dozens of
advanced boats including nuclear attack submarines and new
Russian-made Kilo submarines. They have frequently threatened to
Ironically, Beijing officials echoed Santoli's statement,
renewing Chinese threats to blockade Taiwan with submarines. In
an open broadcast, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue
hinted that China might consider a naval blockade of Taiwan or
begin boarding all ships to search for weapons.
China has more than 60 submarines, including five Han-class nuclear
attack boats. The Chinese navy is also planning to produce as
many as a dozen more advanced nuclear attack submarines by the
end of this decade. In addition, Russia also maintains a fleet
of nearly 50 active submarines centered on a core force of
20 nuclear-powered Akula and Victor attack boats.
In comparison, the U.S. Navy maintains a force of 55
nuclear attack submarines but has no conventional submarines.
The heavy expense of this all-nuclear fleet has forced the U.S
Navy to cut back submarine production while increasing
The all-nuclear fleet also led U.S. defense contractors General
Dynamics and Newport News to abandon production of non-nuclear submarines, forcing Taiwan to seek conventional-powered boats
made in Germany and the Netherlands.
"The real shame is that we are not buying enough submarines to
keep two shipyards economically healthy," stated Jack Spencer, a
defense analyst at the Heritage Foundation.
"This presents a two-fold problem. First, we have an
ever-decreasing defense industrial base, and second a shrinking
submarine force structure. Both of these trends have
devastating national security consequences.
"Without a healthy
defense industrial complex, the United States will find it
increasingly difficult to procure high-quality, reasonably price
weapons. Also should the United States find itself in a war, it
could have to produce weapons at a fast pace.
"As for the shrinking submarine force structure the bottom line
is that the subs are a multi-mission capable, stealthy, fast
weapon system," noted Spencer.
"It can deliver Tomahawk cruise missiles, collect
reconnaissance, deliver special teams forces, and a multitude of
other missions. The U.S. Navy is being asked to do all of these
things but with fewer boats."
"We simply need more subs - now," concluded Spencer.
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