Cost-cutting by the Navy and two defense contractors has led to a serious problem for the elite Virginia-class nuclear submarine, reports the Daily Press of Newport News, Va. A hull treatment designed to increase the subs' stealth tends to peel away underwater—and the lack of protective coating makes the subs very much un-stealthy. Four of the seven subs have the trouble so far.
Each Virginia costs $2 billion, and it seems that hefty price tag is what drove the Navy and contractors Northrop and General Dynamics to go cheap on the coating, says one security strategist. "The demand to build this submarine in a fast, cost-effective way led them to skip some steps that should have been in the process. They've got this beautiful, fantastic vessel, and they just covered it in a Wal-Mart tarp." See Mother Jones' take on the Daily Press story here.