Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Norman Polmar: LPD-17 cost is ludicrous

Its not just me. More headscratching about the ship that has drained off an ocean of money; USS San Antonio (LPD-17).
The USS San Antonio is a ship of distinctions — it's the Navy's first ship designed entirely on computer, the first with "gender-neutral" quarters, first of its class and first to bear the city's name.

But there's also a dubious distinction for the San Antonio, which is just weeks from its Texas commissioning — its price, $1.76 billion, is almost three times its projected cost a decade ago.
Originally pegged to cost about $644 million by the Government Accountability Office, the San Antonio is more expensive than the Navy's Arleigh Burke-class guided missile Aegis destroyer, which averages $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion.

"It's a troop transport with a lot more features, but it's still basically a troop and equipment transport," said naval analyst Norman Polmar, author of two reference books, "Guide to the Soviet Navy" and "Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet."

"For us to pay that much when we can buy an Aegis guided missile destroyer for (about) $1 billion, it's ludicrous," he added.
Norman is one of the 100# heads of Naval Warfare.
The inspectors, who visited the ship June 27-July 5, wrote up 107 "starred cards" given for equipment that needed to be repaired. They rated construction and craftsmanship standards as "poor." Workers left a "snarled, over-packed, poorly assembled and virtually uncorrectable electrical/electronic cable plant."

The inspectors said watertight integrity was compromised throughout the ship by multiple cable lines.
Questions about the ship remain. Padfield (ship's CO) and Galinis (ship's Program Manager) said they did not know how many starred cards remained out, and the Navy didn't provide details when pressed on the matter. Twenty-one had been cleared as of mid-summer
The ship's CO and Program Manager dont know? Bravo Sierra. Someone is either playing games, or the ship still has uniformed oversight problems. I don't know about you, but the "starred cards" would be in the Top 5 of my Department Head briefing at this stage of the game. Probably slide 3.
"I'm an optimist and I'm bullish on the design," he (Polmar) said. "I recognize it's been a troubled program and hope the troubles are behind us."
Ditto what Norm said. It will come out OK, but the cost will make it a hollow victory.

No comments: