The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Alaska approaches Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay.

Provided photo/File

ST. MARYS — A program described by U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter as “vital to the future of Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay” has been authorized through the National Defense Authorization Act.

Continued construction of a replacement fleet for Ohio-class submarines ported at Kings Bay and in Bangor, Wash. through the fiscal year 2018 is considered crucial to keeping construction of a replacement fleet on schedule. It will cost an estimated $97 billion to build a new fleet of boats to replace the existing 14 ballistic missile submarines on both coasts.

Carter, R-1, emphasized the importance of a new class of 12 ballistic missile submarines to national security.

“This legislation ensures construction on the Ohio-class replacement continues to prevent any interruption in future missions at Kings Bay.” Carter said. “The submarines at Kings Bay play a critical role in our nuclear deterrence as the United States continues to face uncertain threats from around the globe. Kings Bay is the elite home to the Atlantic ballistic submarine fleet and I will continue to fight to do everything in my power to make sure this continues.”

Approval of the National Defense Authorization Act by the House of Representatives is the primary way Congress meets its most important obligations to national defense, Carter said. The legislation, which offers $631.5 billion in defense spending, establishes defense policy for the next fiscal year.

The new submarines will be 560-feet long, the same length as the Ohio-class subs they will replace, and 43 feet in diameter, one foot larger than the older boats. For improved stealth, they will have an electric drive propulsion train that will be quieter than the mechanical drives on other submarines.

The new vessels will be designed to be in service 42 years with no need for mid-life refueling of nuclear fuel, a process that takes boats out of service for about two years. They will be named Columbia-class after the first one which will be named in honor of the District of Columbia. The subsequent boats are expected to be named after states.

The legislation also increases troop pay and benefits, supports missions to defeat ISIS and restored readiness to the military, Carter said.