Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sen. McCain calls out Navy shipbuilding

I've had issues with Senator McCain in the past - that is OK, no one is perfect - but he is in the 10-ring on this.
"You'll never see a 313-ship Navy if these costs prevail," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., citing projections of $13 billion aircraft carriers and multibillion-dollar destroyers. "These are staggering numbers. In the past 10 to 15 years, the cost escalation has been astronomical."

Navy Secretary Donald Winter said the Navy needs to do a better job of limiting the design requirements of new ships.
Bingo! LCS is a perfect example. Speed fetish folks drove the engineering costs through the roof - but the real problem is the whole "module" concept and the requirement to move technology from PowerPoint to underway in 3-D. Just look at the program requirements (page 5 here).
"I recognize that if it keeps going like it's going, we'll never get there," agreed Adm. Michael Mullen, the chief of naval operations.

Mullen said the Navy would need to spend about $13.5 billion a year on shipbuilding to support the new construction plan and increase the size of the fleet. The 2007 defense budget, submitted to Congress last month, calls for spending $10.5 billion.
When your costs go up 40-80%, you are in a death spiral of production.
"Our fleet is at the smallest size it's been since before World War I," Lieberman said. "We need to spend more at a very dangerous time in our nation's history."
Spend more or spend smart? You think all that money is going to be there, or hope?
The new shipbuilding plan would increase Navy procurement dramatically, growing from the purchase of seven new ships next year to 14 ships in 2011. But the plan also calls for cuts in the large, costly ships that sustain major shipyards like Newport News.
Outyear projections never happen. Without money that won’t come, how do you buy what you need. If you want 55 LCS and your price per shadow goes up 40%, you wind up with 22. How many K130 Corvettes or ANZAC Frigates can you buy with that - and capabilities that come with them? Not perfect ships, but I will take them and their proven, advanced systems over promises and pipe dreams.

While I continue to kick LCS in the ass – I want you to look at this site from PEO Ships at Crane. Half way down the page where it states, “LCS will be a "small, fast, affordable ship: Speed and agility.” Small-No. Fast-Yes. Affordable-No. .300 is great in baseball, not shipbuilding (notice the lack of “break things and kill people” on the page).

BTW, the CNO has been on this problem he inherited. I think he knows the challenge, but to fix it is an undertaking that will take Senators such as McCain and Lieberman to get out and push ... and give him the top-cover to put heads on pikes. He knows how to do it.

My last installment of the LCS Chronicles made Chap’s head hurt. Good post at his site. Check it out.

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