Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Program management needs its own measure of time

What is one of the more simple ship designs you can think of? Important, warfighting ship - but simple to design and build?

I think a LCU should be on anyone's short list.

Via Megan Eckstein at USNINews;
The Navy is doing preliminary design work on its Landing Craft Utility (LCU) replacement now to begin construction within about three years, in time to support one-for-one replacement on the surface connectors in 2022.

The LCUs were first built in 1959, and the 32 craft still in service average more than 43 years old – well over the 25 years of service life they were built for, Capt. Chris Mercer, amphibious warfare program manager at Naval Sea Systems Command, said at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space 2015 Exposition last week.
OK kiddies, let's get out the whiteboard.

It is 2015. 2022 is seven years from now.

I think "years" does not really tell the best story about how long it takes to get even the most simple ship to displace water after the "go" is given.

Perhaps we need a new measurement - one that provides context. We need one defined in American terms, natch, and I have an idea.

I've used it before; the time from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the signing ceremony on the Mighty Mo.

That is 07DEC41 to 02SEP45. 3-years, 8-months, 26 days. Including the end date, that is 1,366 days. We shall now make that a measure of time. It will be called a WorldWar.

So - back to ...
The LCUs serve as the “workhorse” of the surface connector fleet – they go slower but could originally carry 125 tons of cargo, two tanks, 10 light armored vehicles or more than 400 troops. Landing Craft Air Cushions (LCACs), on the other hand, can exceed 40 knots but only haul 60 tons.

Mercer, who will carry out the Surface Connector X Replacement (SC(X)R) acquisition program based on Walsh’s requirements, said an analysis of alternatives was conducted last year, with the Navy and Marine Corps deciding on “a modified repeat of the LCU – rugged, reliable, designed for ease of maintenance and repair, fuel-efficient, with a high payload, able to do independent operations and really no impact to the infrastructure of the [Assault Craft Units].”

The Navy is currently in the preliminary design review, Mercer said, with Walsh adding the SC(X)Rs – also called LCU 1700s – would come off the production line in time for one-for-one replacements starting in 2022. Production of the LCAC replacements, the Ship-to-Shore Connectors (SSCs), is two years ahead and is also a modified repeat.

“We are replacing them both in-kind while leveraging today’s technology to make these new craft more efficient, easier to operate and maintain,” Walsh said.
For the sake of argument, let's make the start date 21APR15, end date 31DEC22. That is 2,812 days.

We know work is already going ... but we are going to be nice and use 21APR15 as the start date.

That tells us that it is going to take us - in spite of all our technology, communications, automation, etc ... 2.05-WorldWars to have a LCU ready to displace water.

Are we happy with this? Are we satisfied? Is this successful? What does this say about the system we have created to serve the fleet and her nation?

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