Monday, December 07, 2009

Shipbuilding goes Salamander

Let's review a few of the Salamander fundementals, shall we?

- Evolutionary wins over revolutionary.
- Technology demonstration on proven platforms first - then on new hulls.
- Good beats perfect.
- Spread you eggs around many baskets.
- PPT lie, even if people don't.
- Costs estimates are low balled.
- Actual manning requirements will be greater.
- Do not assume budgets will increase to meet expanding per-unit costs - expect smaller budgets instead.
- Configuration control with block upgrades.

Well, that is a few of the fundamentals we have discussed over the years ..... and if you want to see what cold water feels like on the face;
The Navy will kill the CG(X) cruiser program and instead develop new warships based on the design of Arleigh Burke-class DDG-51 destroyers, according to a draft report the service is preparing for Congress.

The long-term shipbuilding report, due to Congress in February, says unaffordable cost estimates and immature technology doomed the CG(X) program, which was supposed to fill a critical role in integrated air and missile defense. Inside the Navy reviewed a copy of the draft, which is labeled "for official use only -- pre-decisional information -- not for release outside the Navy."
Yes, I know. Pre-decisional ... but let's keep going because I am enjoying the "I told you so" nature of it all; kind of.
The Navy's fiscal year 2009 budget plan called for buying the first CG(X) cruiser in FY-11, but eight months ago Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced officials would delay the program to revisit its requirements and acquisition strategy. This summer, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead asserted the Navy might still buy CG(X) cruisers.

"I would say that CG(X) could be the next surface combatant," the admiral told reporters June 30 after a speech in Washington, DC.

But that is not going to happen, according to the new draft report.

Due to "the ship's projected high cost and [the] immaturity of its combat systems technology and design, the Navy has determined that it is not in the department's best interest to pursue CG(X) procurement," the report states.
...or they could have just read CDRSalamander for the same answer. And no, I am not really enjoying ... well, in a schadenfreude kind of way; maybe. I wish I were wrong, but here we are in a corner we painted ourselves in. We have to come to solutions - we have to turn to the realists.

Let's roll around in the awesomeness some more, shall we?
"However, it will be critical to pursue the technology development and combat system design for application on a smaller combatant such as a DDG-51 variant," the report continues.

The new move to kill CG(X) follows the Navy's dramatic decision last year to truncate the Zumwalt-class DDG-1000 destroyer program. The DDG-1000s were intended to support integrated air and missile defense but the service decided it was more affordable and efficient to restart the DDG-51 program.
Why? Because no one in leadership for the last decade had a command climate that allowed smart, sharp, and honest engineers - civilian or military - to stand up and say, "Just wait a g0d@!mn minute! That vignette is BS, your technology PPT thick, and your cost estimates are produced by vaporware!"

We have those guys in The Pentagon, we have them at NAVSEA. We have those EDOs and Program Managers. These guys get it - and know it a lot better than I do. But they are muffled by the dead hand of short-term leaders, dead weight SES, and the smothering layers of bureaucracy that blands all and promotes happy talk. Those guys have sure talked to me though over the years - but their concerns were crushed by a culture that promoted personal loyalty over institutional loyalty - their hearts are broken, but they soldier on.

Also, good leaders were fed bad information by consultants with financial conflicts and poorly led staff officers who were terrified of being the junior guy contradicting the senior guy who owned paper on them. They also know what would happen if they were blamed for putting the spike in the forehead of ADM XXXX's pet project.

We. Knowingly. Did. This. To. Ourselves.

Do not blame Congress; do not blame industry - if you have 4-Stars, blame yourself.

Then take action.

We need to change a culture from what we have right now that gives us this result - tough decisions are pushed to someone else's PCS cycle, the Fleet suffers, and the taxpayer is left holding the bag. No one believes anything we say.

We need to fix the process that produces bad shipbuilding programs or this will happen again. All programs have challenges, but the epic fail of LCS and DDG-1000 (the argument could also be made to include the Tiffany Amphib LPD-17 too) in this decade should get the attention of someone to make the changes needed. Vince Lombardi leadership - back to fundamentals. Maybe we are getting there.

Solutions in DEC of O9, eh? Hey, this sounds Salamanderesque,
The Navy is buying nine DDG-51s from FY-10 to FY-15 and anticipates adding an integrated air and missile defense capability to new DDG-51s as early as FY-16, the report states. These upgraded DDG-51s will be modifications of the current design, combining the "best emerging technologies" aimed at further increasing integrated air and missile defense capabilities and providing a "more effective bridge between today's capability and what had been planned for CG(X), the service writes.

While the Navy has "much work" to do to determine the final design, the service envisions the DDG-51 variant having "upgrades to radar and computing performance with the increased power-generation capacity and cooling required by these enhancements," the report states. The report also states procurement of a new class of DDG(X) destroyers will begin in FY-23 "and is anticipated to be a modification to legacy ship designs."
Sad thing is - the Arleigh Burke is an old design. We could have a new hull now to build our next generation of cruisers - but we pi55ed away a decade chasing transformational shadows and expended our institutional capital with Congress supporting systems, and changing our story every FY, that were faulted at birth by bad conceptual thinking.

As a result, we are having to make sub-optimal decisions. Strange, the lack of accountability of it all.

Norman from over a year ago,
The most likely, near-​​term alternative to the DDG 1000 is to resume construction of the Burkes. The Navy now has 62 in the fleet and under construction. The former CNO, and now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, has declared repeatedly that the Navy does not need additional Burke–class ships. And, restarting that line and updating the ships would give them a price tag of about $2 bil­lion each. (The Burke original design dates from 1979.)
Sad, and not that elegant.


Tom Mowry said...

It seems like we need something in between the current FFG 7 and DDG 51, perhaps we need to have a joint venture with the ROK Navy, the Austrailians or the Spanish, they all seem able to design a ship of around 6000 ton displacement with AEGIS.

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