It’s good to be the Program Executive Officer for Submarines. Over the past year, we enabled a number of successes that are crucial to the Submarine Force’s continued dominance. Our achievements range from deploying the first of the newly-converted SSGNs into the Pacific Ocean, to making significant headway in reducing the acquisition cost of the VIRGINIA Class so that we can transition to buying two for $4 billion as measured in Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 dollars in FY 2012. In my opinion, the coming years are the right time to begin investing in new technologies for the next-generation of submarines in the Navy’s 30-Year Shipbuilding Plan. We have demonstrated our ability to perform and I believe that we can utilize the Navy-Industry partnership that has been so effective in both the SSGN and VIRGINIA Class programs to help ensure our undersea preeminence for decades to come with a generational investment in technology.
USS OHJO’s (SSGN 726) first operational deployment is the Submarine Force’s most publicly-visible achievement. At the Naval Submarine League’s Annual Symposium on 1 November 2007, I signed the class’s Initial Operational Capability document, meaning that the class is now ready to assume its intended role in the Fleet. Later that month, OHIO began its first operational patrol in the Pacific Ocean. The ship wilt spend a full year forward deployed, conducting three crew turnovers.
The SSGN Program has been a model for execution of a complicated program within budget and schedule constraints. Since receiving its first SCN funding in FY 02, the SSGN program has performed almost exactly to schedule. In FY 02, the Navy estimated that the entire SSGN Program would cost $4.052 billion and with the last boat nearing completion we now estimate the final cost at $4.095 billion- a difference of I percent. Also in FY 02, the Navy estimated that we would need a total of 131 months to convert all four boats. With GEORGIA’s December 2007 delivery we have taken 134 months, a 2 percent increase. The SSGN Program’s ability to stay so close to the five-year old budget and schedule estimate is a testament to all of the people from the Program Office, Naval Reactors, the Naval Sea Systems Command, Strategic Systems Programs, NA VAIR, Norfolk and Puget Sound Naval Shipyards, and General Dynamics Electric Boat who executed these four refueling and conversions. Without a doubt, they have provided the Navy with powerful platforms that will be in constant use for the next two decades.
Much has been said about the SSGN’s Strike and Special Operation Forces (SOF) Payload, and rightfully so. Each SSGN can carry up to 154 TOMAHAWK land-attack cruise missiles, 66 SOF and the gear and equipment needed for sustained operations. Additionally, the forward-most missile tubes are now lock-out chambers that are capable of mounting either a Dry Deck Shelter or the Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS). See Figure I
With little fanfare, though, we installed some of the same fire control, sonar system, and electronic warfare suites found on the latest-generation SSNs. We also installed a photonics mast and Integrated Submarine Imaging Systems so that the SSGNs will have the same above-water optical sensors as the VIRGINIA Class. The SSGNs also have the Common Submarine Radio Room along with two high-data rate antennas that allow for unparalleled connectivity. We installed a Battle Management Center that can serve as a Small Combatant Joint Command Center-something that was proved during multiple Sea Trial Experiments. With the upgrades to their fire control systems, the SSGNs will also be able to employ the latest Mk 48 variant, the Advanced Capability, Common Broadband Advanced Sonar System. This fully digital weapon has been designed to be the dominant littoral torpedo while still retaining deep-water capability. So, while the most people have been focusing on the SSGNs’ Strike and SOF capabilities, we have further enhanced these ships by fully modernizing their Submarine Warfare Federated Tactical Systems (SWFTS) with the latest software and hardware available.
The Virginia Class Program has experienced as much success as the SSGN. On May 5, 2007, the Navy commissioned USS HA WAII (SSN 776), the third of the class behind USS VIRGINIA (SSN 774) and USS TEXAS (SSN 775). HAW All also successfully completed the Operational Evaluation (OPEV AL) for its lock-out trunk in November 2007. Additionally, the Navy christened NORTH CAROLINA (SSN 777) on April 21 and laid NEW HAMPSHIRES’ keel on April 30.
This cycle of commissioning, christening, and keel laying will continue into 2008 as NORTH CAROLINA will commission on May 3 while the Navy will christen NEW HAMPSHIRE on June 21 and lay NEW MEXICO’s keel on April 12. 2008 wilt also see the continuation of the Virginia Class’ OPEVAL program with USS VIRGINIA carrying out the Anti-Submarine and Anti-Surface Ship, mine avoidance, battle group support and strike portions with USS TEXAS conducting the DDS trials. The Program Office and the Fleet expect to complete OPEV AL in early 2009 with Milestone III coming soon after.
The Virginia Class Program Office is also working on a Request for Proposals for a seven-ship Multi-Year Procurement (MYP) Contract with Economic Order Quantity (EOQ). This Block III contract is scheduled for award in December 2008 and is a key effort to reach the CNO’s mandate for buying 2 Virginia’s for $4 billion (as measured in FY 05 dollars) in FY 2012- or 2 for 4 in 12.
To make 2 for 4 in 12 a reality, the Virginia Class Program established a three-element strategy to reduce cost by $400 million per hull. See Figure 2. The first element involves securing authorization from Congress for the seven-ship MYP contract with EOQ for the Block III submarines. That alone provides approximately $200 million savings per ship starting with the FY 12 hulls due to EOQ and the spreading of overhead across two hulls. Both the FY 08 Appropriations and Authorization budgets approved the Navy to negotiate an MYP contract, so we are half way to our cost-reduction goal. See Figure 3.
The second cost-reduction strategy involves improving construction performance from the 84 months for USS TEXAS to 60 months for future Virginia class hulls. A key aspect in this effort includes streamlining the construction process. For example, by repositioning the Lightweight Wide Aperture Arrays off of hull butts, the shipbuilders are able to reduce Virginia class’ construction span by five weeks. We are removing two weeks of construction time by modifying how we build and test the weapons module and saving another two weeks by eliminating the post Bravo Sea Trial dry docking period.
The Navy and shipbuilders have also taken steps to reduce the time to build the Lock-Out Trunk by six weeks and the sail construction by four weeks. We have modified the torpedo tube shutter door plating for a savings of four weeks on that specific task and we re-positioned the engine room collecting tank to save two weeks on that construction element. While these modifications do not provide a one-for-one savings on the total ship, they do allow the shipbuilders to redeploy workers to other areas quicker and the trickle down effect is that ships complete earlier.
The Navy took an important step in reducing the construction span with the Block II contract awarded in FY 03. In that contract, the Navy set aside $91 million for a Capital Expenditure Program that provides money to our shipbuilding partners for infrastructure improvements that will reduce construction costs over the life of the Virginia class program. To date, the Navy has approved eight CAPEX projects and spent a total of $61 million. For this investment, the Navy has removed approximately 4.8 million man hours of work from the remaining twenty hulls and avoided costs of $412 million over those hulls-a seven-to-one return on investment.
Due in large part to construction-span streamlining and the CAPEX program the Virginia Class Program Office estimates that NEW HAMPSHIRE (SSN 778) will complete six months early to its contract delivery date for a total of 71 months to build. The construction span for NEW MEXICO (SSN 779) is currently estimated at 65 months, making its delivery six months early to the contracted delivery date of April 2010. The ship authorized in FY 08, the unnamed SSN 783, will take only 62 months to build, meaning that between now and FY 12 we will have to shave only two additional months off of our current construction plan. Given the past performance of our Navy/Industry team, it is very likely that we will be able to find those two months and therefore meet our goal of a 60-month construction span.
The third and final element of the Virginia-Class cost-reduction strategy involves redesigning portions of the submarine to reduce both component and construction costs. The Navy’s shipbuilding partners have provided hundreds of design for affordability suggestions, several of which we have implemented. One of these design changes involves the electrification of the torpedo room. By replacing all of the torpedo room’s approximately 65 hydraulic actuators with electromechanical components, we will eliminate more than half a mile of hydraulic piping and all of its associated welds, valves, filters, restriction, hangers, and reservoirs for a savings of$3.2 million, as measured in FY 05 dollars, on the FY 12 ships.
Another design change involves modularizing the lock-out trunk (LOT). By building more of the trunk off-hull and modifying its design, the Navy will be able to save $500,000 in FY 05 dollars per hull starting with the ships authorized in FY 12.
As part of the redesign for cost reduction effort, the Navy and its industrial partners re-evaluated some traditional submarine building beliefs. In doing so, we determined that we could reduce the amount of damping material in the forward parts of the ship and use a different, less expensive, material. This design change is being implemented on the last two boats of the Block II contract, SSN-782 and SSN-783, and will save $4.4 million in FY 05 dollars on the FY 12 ships.
As part of this reevaluation, the Navy determined that it could save $60 million, as measured in FY 07 dollars, per ship by eliminating Post-Shakedown Avail-abilities (PSA). In doing so, the Navy may be able to secure an extra deployment per hull and it will minimize non-propulsion electronic systems obsolescence by deferring upgrades until after the ships’ first deployment. The $60 million, though, does not count toward the cost reduction effort. However, eliminating the PSA saves the Navy a considerable amount of money, and it looks to provide our operational forces with an extra deployment per submarine. It is the right thing to do for the Navy.
The cost reduction program’s most dramatic effort involves the nearly complete redesign of the ships’ bow. This new “bow bundle” replaces the traditional transducer-covered sonar sphere with a water-backed Large Aperture Bow (LAB) Array populated with hydrophones along with a small active array. In making this change, we are eliminating one of the submarine’s most difficult-to-build and therefore costly components with a non-SUBSAFE array that offers improved passives, though slightly reduced active, capabilities. Additionally, the LAB Array will utilize proven hydrophones that are designed to last the life of the ship-current VIRGINIA Class transducers will have to be replaced at the ships’ half life.
The other key component to the bow bundle is the removal of the twelve Vertical Launch System (VLS) tubes and installation of two VIRGINIA Payload Tubes (VPT). The VPTs are the same diameter as the TRIDENT missile tubes found aboard the OHIO Class and will utilize the same Multiple All-up-round Canisters (MAC) as the SSGNs with the only difference being that the VPTs will hold up to six TOMAHAWK cruise missiles instead of the SSGN’s seven to allow access into the canister. With this one change we are nearly doubling the bow’s payload capacity from 1,200 cubic feet to 2,300 cubic feet and the VPT-equipped VIRGINIAs will be able to carry all of the MAC payloads that the Navy puts aboard the SSGNs. See Figure 4.
The bow bundle, coupled with an additional twenty-five associated changes, are estimated to save the Navy $40 million, as measured in FY 05 dollars, on the FY 12 submarines. It is important to note that the design changes discussed above will all go aboard SSN 784, the first of the Block III VIRGINIAs that will begin construction with the signing of the next contract likely in December 2008. However, the cost savings will not be realized until the FY 12 ships. The Navy is asking the shipbuilders to make changes to a mature design and that will require readjusting the learning curve. By FY 12, we fully expect the Navy to order two VIRGINIAs for $4 billion as measured in FY 05 dollars.
The VIRGINIA Class cost reduction program has been a success by any measure. During this process, we began to realize that the Navy had the opportunity to leverage the great work being done reduce VIRGINIA’s costs to start attacking technological barriers that could greatly enhance future submarines’ capabilities. In the near future, the Navy could be in a position to invest in ideas that could revolutionize future submarines’ littoral stealth and provide them with advanced sensors and payloads, improved transit stealth, and the ability to integrate off-board sensors. These are not near-term possibilities and will likely require significant time and financial investments. As we have seen in the past, we must continuously evaluate, protect, and pursue our asymmetric advantage in all things ASW and USW. The United States needs to dominant the undersea battlespace, and to do that we need to retain our technological edge.
As I said, it is good to be the Program Executive Officer for Submarines. The Submarine Force is in the midst of a revolution with both the SSGN and VIRGINIA Classes entering the fleet and, for the OHIO, making their first deployment. We are also in an excellent position to fulfill the CNO’s mandate for 2 for 4 in 12 and our workforce and industrial partners are aligned to meet the needs of the Navy by fulfilling the 30-Year Shipbuilding Plan. Starting in 2002 with the SSGN Program and then the VIRGINIA Class Cost Reduction Program in 2005, the submarine acquisition community has been presented with a number of challenges and in each case we have succeeded. We are now looking forward to continuing our success with whatever the future may hold.