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II. Core Evaluation
Detailed evaluation of spent fuel assemblies at the Expended Core Facility will verify core performance and breeding characteristics. During FY 1984, installation of fuel module disassembly and inspection equipment will be completed and fuel module disassembly to obtain fuel cods for subsequent examination
Core evaluation work in PY 1985 includes completing disassembly of fuel modules, continuing proof-of-breeding through nondestructive and destructive assay, publishing technical reports on initial non-destructive and destructive assay test data, and initiating core and structural materials examinations. Core and
structural material examinations will determine the performance
of unique design features in the breeder reactor and whether the thor ium/uranium-233 fuel system is a practical energy source.
These examinations include visual inspection of fuel modules and
fuel rods for appearance and integrity, determination of fuel rod dimensional changes, measurement of cladding oxide thickness, and determination of rod to rod spacing changes.
NAVAL REACTORS PROGRAM OVERVIEW
Admiral McKEE. I would like to take the few minutes we have to talk a little bit about our program and our focus in the year to come. Also, I will give you some fairly sensitive information which supports the reasons behind these actions.
As you well know, we have commissioned the Albuquerque.
Admiral McKEE. You are aware of our submarine program. We are at the point where 40 percent of the Navy's combatant ships are nuclear powered. That is a considerable piece of our national strategic deterrent and our tactical forces. I have 172 operating reactors in my program, on both the Navy and the DOE side, with a total of 2,700 reactor-years of operation. I have 142 operating ships, 28 under contract. So, we have a lot on our plate.
As you know, our program is a cradle-to-grave operation where we not only do the basic research but are also responsible for the training of operators and overall maintenance of the ships and also designing new ones.
We are bringing to a close our experience in the commercial nuclear power business. We have shut down the light-water breeder reactor at Shippingport. It is being defueled now and we will finish defueling activities and core evaluation toward the end of 1987.
If I may, Senator, I am going to get up and walk around a little bit and show you some of this.
We have a growing responsibility in the naval program. Our responsibilities are directly proportional to the number of ships we operate. As you can see, the trend has gone up dramatically.
We also have to train the people that operate these ships. As you recall, that is a Department of Energy responsibility. The Department of Energy certifies them as safe operators to the Navy. The number of people we have had to train continues to grow. It is beginning to level off now as we achieve our force levels.
Now, the principal thing we are going to be doing this year is developing a reactor plant for a new class of attack submarines. The 688 class submarine, like Albuquerque, is about a 20-year-old design. It was being designed by Admiral Rickover when I worked for him as a lieutenant commander, back in 1964. We have not done anything since then except improve that design. It is time to get on with the next development.
This is the kind of submarine we are talking about. We have to build a submarine that can do these things. It must operate alone and unsupported, conduct defensive and offensive operations, remain on station for a long time, and survive. Basically we are talking about a weapons system that has to be independent. It cannot be dependent on outside sources for support. They have to take care of themselves. To be able to exercise the kind of leverage that provides a payoff for these
very expensive ships, they will have to be able to operate in waters controlled by the enemy. That leverage is very important.
What do I mean by “leverage"? It is like buying insurance or investing your money. What we want to do is find a system where the amount of resources that we destroy or tie up or force them to reallocate is far out of proportion to the dollar investment that we put in.
Submarines have that kind of leverage. It is a historic theme. You may recall World War I when one German submarine sank three enemy cruisers in one afternoon and forced the redeployment of the entire British fleet. In the Falklands conflict, one British submarine sank one cruiser and the Argentine fleet didn't come outside the 12mile limit for the rest of the war. They didn't even know whether that submarine was still there or not.
What leverage means is the ability to create a certainty and uncertainty: a certainty in the minds of the other guys as to what we can do, what the ships are capable of, and a terrible uncertainty as to what we will do. It is that terrible uncertainty that gnaws at the fabric of the war plans they attempt to put together.
Senator DOMENICI. [Deleted.]
And it is nothing new, Senator Domenici. This concept of military leverage is something that has been well understood in our country for a long time—Stonewall Jackson, folks like that.
So that is the point I am trying to make. New attack submarines are going to be expensive ships, but the leverage that you get is going to be very important and it is going to more than let them pay their way. [Deleted.]
The new submarine we are talking about is going to have improvements in many areas. I understand you don't have time to go into detail this morning. I would love to go through it with you, but those are the kinds of improvements we are going to make.
The other point I want to get across to you is to validate some of what I have said because it is important for you to understand that we know what we are talking about. This is the time of year when folks in uniform always come over and holler the Russians are coming and they are getting better. That is what I am going to do.
Senator DOMENICI. Just so they haven't arrived in Wisconsin yet. (Laughter.)
Admiral McKee. They are not in Wisconsin yet, or New Mexico.
Senator DOMENICI. I told somebody that some of you all, not you, act like they already left San Francisco and have arrived in Oshkosh, Wis. I don't know why I picked that.
Admiral McKEE. All I am going to say is the Soviets are getting better. (Deleted.] The Soviets have been getting better for a couple of years. They are pouring extraordinary resources into the business.
NEW DESIGN ATTACK SUBMARINE
Senator DOMENICI. What is in this appropriation request for that advanced submarine?
Admiral McKee. On the Department of Energy side, the total is not specifically set aside, but the figure is around $60 million. The Navy has a delta in there for about $174 million. It is not clear cut because the powerplant is derived from a wide range of R&D lines that we run, just as the submarine R&D is derived from a wide range of lines. The total bill is much more than that, but that is the delta in there this year.
Senator DOMENICI. Is the power system brand new?
Admiral McKEE. Yes, sir. It is a combination of technology we learned in building TRIDENT X, ongoing development work and new building techniques. (Deleted.]
I think that is about all I should try to tell you because of the time. I have a lot more in the material here.
Senator DOMENICI. Do you mind staying around a little bit?
PREPARED QUESTIONS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD
Let's get the other witnesses in here. They have gone to a lot of trouble as well. I don't want to cut them short.
Thank you for your testimony today, Admiral McKee.
QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY SENATOR HATFIELD
Advanced Fleet Reactor
Question: Please describe the progress being made on the Advanced Fleet Reactor. How much funding is provided in FY 83, 84, and 85 for this effort? What is the total estimated cost?
The final reactor design has been chosen for the Advanced Fleet Reactor. Selected long lead material is presently on order; plant design, development of key components and core manufacturing development are all proceeding; and advanced physics and thermal/hydraulic design and analysis is underway, as well as hydraulic and materials testing. Deleted.
The Advanced Fleet Reactor will benefit from a combination of ongoing research and development efforts which makes it difficult to identify an overall cost. The incremental material funding attributable to the Advanced Fleet Reactor effort is less than $5 million for FY 1983, $27 million for FY 1984, and $59 million for FY 1985. The remainder required is difficult to estimate at this stage, but is expected to be about $250 million.
Question: When would you expect the DOD to request a new submarine that would use this reactor?
Answer: The Navy will be requesting authorization of the lead ship of a new class of attack submarines in fiscal year 1989. The Navy presently has development work underway on this new attack submarine class. The Advanced Fleet Reactor, which is the latest generation of pressurized water reactors for naval propulsion, will be used in this class.
Question: Why do you need the large increase in operating expenses? For the record, please provide a detailed breakdown with explanation of the need for each increase.
Answer: Operating expenses increase by $56.4 million in fiscal year 1985. The Advanced Fleet Reactor work is responsible for $32 million of the increase. Major Advanced Fleet Reactor work being performed in fiscal year 1985 includes: core development and preproduction; procurement of long lead material for reactor test and prototype components; component fabrication; design of a prototypical loop for full scale testing of reactor plant components; and confirmation of nuclear characteristics. Aside from a $16.4 million increase for inflation, other items contributing to the requested increase in operating expenses include a $5 million increase for the overhaul and refueling of the S5G prototype reactor, and $3 million for consolidation of laboratory work areas for the handling of radioactive material.