October 15, 2021

YES: Australia’s Nuclear-Powered Submarines Should Be Built in America.

It’s hard to imagine a more complex production line than that for nuclear submarines. Look at Britain’s difficulties as it builds seven boats in its Astute-class nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) program.

Wright’s Law suggests that by the eighth and final nuclear submarine made in Australia—provided everything goes well—our production will be about half as efficient as the Americans who have already produced 19 out of a planned 66 Virginia-class nuclear submarines.

America’s shipyards currently produce 2.6 Virginia-class submarines each year, and some in Washington are lobbying for that to be increased. These American-designed and -built boats, bought in batches, are finished on time and on budget—two concepts that Wright’s Law doesn’t assume for the first dozen of anything so complex.

Building them here would require expansion of our ship-building capacity, something we should never have let atrophy the way it has.

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