The US Submarine Force is Sunk

by | May 23, 2024


When you look at the larger disaster of American arms and readiness, all the services are in the hazard of being mission ineffective. The US Navy surface fleet has been an unmitigated building debacle with the Little Crappy Ships, Zumwalt class and the USS Ford carrier not performing up to speed for any of the anticipated mission sets assigned to these failed programs.

I’ve often thought that the sole discriminator for the US military apart from the aging and decrepit USAF nuclear land-based missile forces and bomber organizations that sets the US apart is the submarine force and now the more I discover about the state of contemporary nuclear submarine construction, maintenance, readiness and improvements, the less convinced I am of the efficacy of the US submarine forces.

Jerry Hendrix wrote a disturbing essay on the state of the force and predictably, it is a hot mess.

His indictment is well-researched, terribly disconcerting and a dim prognostication for future strength.

…of the submarine force already in commission, sixteen of those forty-nine boats—or nearly a third of the Navy’s premier offensive force—are in dry-docks or tied to piers, lacking required dive certifications. These submarines cannot get underway due to a three-year maintenance backlog in the U.S. Navy.

The bottom line is that the American submarine force, the “point of the spear” of American power, upon which so many military plans depend, is unprepared to meet the current threat environment, and there are no quick fixes. It has taken decades—and a sequence of bad assump­tions and poor decisions—to fall into the current state of unpreparedness, and it will take years, as well as significant investments in both new ship construction and submarine repair capacity, to recover.

Thanks to CDR Salamander for introducing me to the splendid Hendrix essay.

He opines:

Back to the effects of bad assumptions. The issue really isn’t the bad assumptions. In all human institutions, you have imperfections and bad assumptions that don’t survive for long in the wild. The key is how fast you can notice the error, and then take corrective action. If you quickly execute bad assumptions, but then in an accretion-encumbered, happy-talk laden, and bureaucratically inept manner slow-roll the correction, well, you find yourself here.

I am less optimistic and think we have reached the point of no return; there is no recovery from this.

Bill Buppert

Bill Buppert

Bill Buppert is the host of Chasing Ghosts: An Irregular Warfare Podcast and a contributor over time to various liberty endeavors. He served in the military for nearly a quarter century and contractor tours after retirement on occasion and was a combat tourist in a number of neo-imperialist shit-pits around the world.

He can be found on twitter at @wbuppert and reached via email at

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