Contact Us   |    Join   |    Donate


Thank you Admiral Padgett for that kind introduction.
Admirals, SESs, leaders of industry, colleagues, I want to thank you for this opportunity to address you about the
program that PEO provides the resources for and we all work together on. But before I get started, I thought you might like to have more of an explanation of why you’ve got this civilian up here instead of one of the Admirals and Admiral Padgett alluded to it, but I’ll provide a little more background. As many of you know, the Navy made a great decision back in the spring to nominate Admiral Johnson for his third star and to become the principal deputy for Secretary Stackley, a very smart move on the Navy’s part if you ask me. But, his nomination has been held up in the Senate, he’s not confirmed yet and we cannot move forward on him taking his new job until he’s confirmed.

In the meantime, Admiral Jabaley has been ready to go, but being the gentleman and follower of the rules that he is, he’s not presupposing to speak for the PEO until he’s actually the PEO. So we had this situation and we’ve been planning ceremonies to do the turnover a couple of times assuming we would have a confirmation—we don’t—and Admiral Johnson realized he needed to move on, give Admiral Jabaley his chance to lead, so Admiral Johnson now has orders to work as a special assistant to Admiral Hilarides and Admiral Jabaley and he will turn over, in some form, by the end of the month. Now you wonder why did we just finally decide that now after this whole summer of waiting and stuff and it came down to a very bureaucratic reason that many of you in the audience will understand: Admiral Johnson realized that if he stayed past October 30th he had to do a whole other set of fit reps and he wasn’t going to do that.
As you’re all familiar with, in the military business, a lot of people like to talk about being at the tip of the spear and I want to say that I’m nowhere near the tip of the spear in the job I do, thankfully, but the sailors and officers who man our submarines and put them out on patrol are very much at the tip of the spear. They are out there in a very hostile environment doing some amazing things. I’m fortunate to have the job to provide them with the spears they need to do that, and we as a team—all of you in here—that’s our mission and I want to say that you all have been doing a fantastic job and as I go through my talk you’ll realize all the wonderful things that we as a team have accomplished to give those sailors and officers out at the tippy tip of the spear the right tools to survive. As Admiral Hilarides said yesterday, I get to have all the fun because I get to talk about the neat systems – at least I think it’s neat – that you all produce and we provide to the warfighter. First we’ll be talking about the VIRGINIA, a very successful program. I’ve been fortunate to have been part of VIRGINIA early on, in the middle of working with Admiral Johnson and many other fine officers, and civilians, and industry members to get this program going. I just wanted to touch on a couple of things. The Virginia Payload Tube (VPT), was a brilliant idea by Electric Boat to actually reduce the cost of the submarines but it was an amazing capability we also got. Unfortunately, we’re not taking advantage of it and one of my challenges to industry here is to develop the payload that takes advantage of this space that we have now. We don’t have to wait for Virginia Payload Module (VPM), we have the VPT now, we’re not using it when we need to.

The Block IV contract is the largest shipbuilding contract in history, and as Secretary of the Navy likes to say, we did so well teaming across the industry, not just the shipbuilders, but the suppliers on reducing the cost, that we were able to get ten submarines for the price of nine. He uses that in his speech all the time and it’s kudos for us and it is good politics for us and in our mission. Then there’s the VPM. As many of you were involved in it, Vice Admiral Hilarides talked about the SSGN, one of the more successful ship’s that we’ve ever had. The warfighters have come to love that platform. In my previous job, I was the director of submarine engineering and I can tell you for sure that those ships are getting used and used hard. We had many issues with the equipment being used up faster – shaft life and things like that. It’s not just words, it’s in action. The warfighters are really using those platforms and they’d like to have more of them if they could. Now, the reason that’s important is the VPM is the follow on, basically, for SSGNs and with the kind of support it has, its program is probably in pretty good shape. Right now the plan of record is to build one VPM a year starting in FY 19 through the shipbuilding plan. There is now support for the possibility after we start doing a Virginia VPM, whatever that is in FY 19, to make all Virginias VPM Virginias. I think that makes sense from a shipbuilding point of view and from a capability for the Navy.

When I talk about Virginias I’m talking about a lot of ships now. There are the 28 ships that are either under contract, under construction, or built and operating in the Navy. This is a good indicator of what a good year it’s been for Virginia and a good history. As Admiral Caldwell said yesterday, we’re busy, but it’s a very good busy and you can see that we’re getting close to running out of states to name our submarines after, which is a good problem to have. Some recent successes this year, we’ll start with the NORTH DAKOTA, the first Block III ship. Because of the capability and the quality that Huntington Ingalls and Electric Boat team and all the suppliers of the equipment do in their jobs, these submarines come out at the highest quality. Every submarine delivered sets a new record for scoring from the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) and, thus we’re really delivering platforms out of delivery, ready to do their jobs, which is unique. It used to be a submarine really wasn’t ready. I remember in 688s and Ohio’s that they really weren’t ready until after Post Shakedown Availability (PSA) but NORTH DAKOTA is in PSA now and just came back from a real-world mission, highly classified, doing work, right out of the gate and supporting the warfighter and giving AO back to the warfighter, which was a good thing. We just commissioned JOHN WARNER, the 785, and just recently christened the ILLINOIS by the First Lady, who did a great job. Whether you’re a republican or a democrat, you have to be proud of and supportive of how the First Lady is a sponsor for the submarine and how she’s embraced the sailors and the military community. It’s very exciting. Okay, so now I’m moving on to the nation’s most important acquisition program and one of the reasons I’m in this job to provide the continuity on this program. Admiral Johnson, about a year ago, realized that with the OHIO Replacement coming up and the increased work in the industrial base, and making sure that we do no harm to the Virginia program, realized that we had to have a plan. So he set up the team, which he called a SUBS team, which is the Submarine Unified Build Strategy, gave it to Captain – then Commander – Rucker to head up and they did work with the shipbuilders and industry. Many of you in industry probably had a visit from Captain Rucker and his team to understand how we would do this together. Admiral Johnson also tasked the two shipbuilders to come up with their plan and we’ve been spending this summer integrating our plans to make sure we do the best thing for this submarine program.

Here is the OHIO Replacement and the reason that we have the plan we have, as the OHIO’s age out we need to replace them with OHIO Replacement. Vice Admiral Benedict mentioned the two year slip in the OHIO Replacement schedule; what we’ve done is we’ve taken away all of our margin now to keep the strategic asset there. I talk to people about this and we’re talking about a submarine that doesn’t go to sea until 2031 and people are kind of skeptical about “Why is that a tight schedule? How can you have problems meeting that date and it’s so far into the future?” Yet when I get into my meetings with shipbuilders, especially when Will Lennon puts his slides up, I look at them and wonder how the heck are we going to get all that work done in the time we have? It is a very daunting challenge once you get into the details. So, we’re building a platform for the warfighter, for our strategic deterrents to have a sufficient payload to continue the mission and we’re able to do that with sixteen missile tubes. The biggest key, probably, to this platform is, as had been alluded, it’s going to be around until 2084, long past most of us being around, and it has to be survivable. So stealth is one of the big things on this and that’s led us to adding some changes to the submarine, like a large vertical array to help with the stealth. But we’re working hard on that with the team, with all of you here and I think we’re doing a good job in that area. We’re maximizing the reuse of components, and as Admiral Benedict said, we’re using commonality also to keep the cost down. So the lead ship construction must commence in 2021 which means long leads starting in 2019 which is when we have to have 83% of the design done, which is why we’re gearing up – between the shipbuilders and the government – with so much effort to get that done. One of the biggest savings when you’re talking to colleagues and members of Congress and talking about this program and everybody talks about how expensive it is, realize with the efforts of naval reactors to come up with a lifetime core, we’re able to do the mission done by fourteen submarines now with just twelve and that’s a savings of over $10 billion in the program right there because of the cost of submarines.

When I’m doing talks, I like to give people some insights into things that are not generally known but are certainly not classified or sensitive. Right now we’re in a busy time of the program, we’re getting ready to release an RFP for the design contract and this is going to be kind of a unique contract. We’re following the model of the VIRGINIA, as we do on many things in this program, where they had the 1996 design build contract and so this contract we’re going to be issuing an RFP for this year and hopefully signing sometime around now next year. We’ll start the RFP with the SCN detail design only but the contract will also have CLINs in it for the construction of the first two ships, so this is a contract that will run from FY 16 until FY 31, we’re talking about a fifteen year contract here and over $6 billion so it’s a big deal. Being that it’s such a big deal and a lot of money – and that’s just the design part, the whole contract including ship construction will make this over a $22.3 billion contract when it’s all said and done – we have to go through a Defense Acquisition Board and there’s many steps along the way. One of the things we’ll be doing next week is what’s called a Gate 4 and that’s getting through the Navy leadership and the purpose of that is to set the technical baseline. We thought that we were past the issues of needing a Gate 4, but Secretary Stackley wants to have one because he wants to set the technical baseline. He’s very adamant about controlling costs. He’s a big supporter of the submarine community, he understands the good we do but he also wants to continue controlling costs, reducing costs and that’s an emphasis of his. We have to set a technical baseline with the Gate 4 which means the Capability Development Document and the specs and developing a process for change because he feels change in programs is a big cost driver and he’s going to minimize that to the greatest extent possible. And then after that, we’ll have a Defense Acquisition Board for the request for proposal and those of you working for the Pentagon know that means a whole bunch of meetings and briefings before we get to that. But many of you may not know that Secretary Kendall is a very detail man and he invests the time in it. The last time we briefed Secretary Kendall on this program, we started on a Friday afternoon in December at about three o’clock and we finished a little before eight o’clock so he gets into details and he will probably do the same thing here as we go through the program with him.

So, the theme for this submarine league symposium is innovation – in fact it’s Accelerating innovation, meeting the undersea capability and capacity challenges – and if any program is accelerating innovation to meet the challenges of the future, and given the capability, it’s the Ohio Replacement and I just want to touch on some of the areas where we have innovation.

This ship is a blend of reuse, commonality, and innovation as necessary. We’re reusing many of the components that we can from the Virginia class and we are also leveraging some commonality with the rest of the submarine fleet and I’ll touch on a few. In the innovation we have the x-stern, those of you that have been around a long time know we had an x-stern a long time ago on the first submarine with the new hull shapes that we put on the ALBACORE. So it’s an old technology but also innovative because we haven’t done that before. One of the things that it gets
us for the OHIO Replacement that you might not realize but it helps with the turning. Those of you who have been on the submarines or driven the VIRGINIAs know that with the propulser you get the good quieting but you also get lousy turning radius and the submarine isn’t nearly as maneuverable. The x-stern will get us better turning, especially on the surface, with increased rudder size without impacting the undersea operation. And it provides good stability in the undersea realm and makes the submarine operating envelope much more benign.

Everybody’s heard about the E drive, again, an old technology that’s coming back as a new innovation, this time with permanent magnets and a much more sophisticated design. The thing that naval reactors likes to point out, though, is this is not experimental, we’re not doing a new technology, we’re innovating on a current technology and it’s an engineering issue and we will be very successful with that with the work being done now and in Philadelphia at the Compatibility Test Facility so that’s very exciting. But, again, it’s an innovation needed to meet the acoustic goals. We have the integrated tube and hull construction that Electric Boat has advanced, again, a very innovative thing. This is a ship that needs a longer shaft life, that’s learning from the work to keep the SSGNs at sea and new research down in Key West.

Atmosphere control and handling, we’re going to have a new way to handle CO2 in the atmosphere and that’s very innovative. One of the biggest innovations I’ve already mentioned before, the life of the ship core, we don’t have to do a refueling. That’s an amazing cost savings across the whole program and on each ship. Forty-two year operational life is building off of what the Ohio is doing.

In the area of commonality, we’re going to use the same combat system as the rest of the submarine fleet, and I’ll talk some more about SWTFS later, but that’s a big one there where we’re not developing individual components but using the same across the Navy and it’s saved lots of money. And the modular construction that EB has done is very innovative.

Some of the accomplishments in the program, Admiral Benedict talked about some on the SP side, on the ship side we set the ship length and we completed the ship specifications so we’ve set the bounds of what it is we’re going to build and now the shipbuilders and the sub component vendors know what they need to do and we’re going forward and designing the ship and starting to build it now. We did some VIRGINIA payload testing that will support our ship, it actually started – Missile tube construction, Electric Boat this year issues contracts to three different vendors to build missile tubes for the first article quad pack and the first UK boat. So, think about that, right now, today, in 2015 we have vendors who are bending steel and welding it and that steel is going to go into the first submarine and it will be out and operating at sea until 2070. So we’re building the ship now and we’ve got a lot of work to do.

Electric Boat and the government team has been planning this work for a while, almost ten years now actually, and there’s been a lot of innovation on Electric Boat’s part in construction. The manufacturing of the first article quad pack, where they’re taking the concepts that started with Quonset Point building parts for the Trident submarines – the hull sections through the development of outfitting and modularity, and the work on VIRGINIA and they’re taking it to the next level of a very innovative approach.

You have a movie that I’m stealing from Electric Boat that will show you the innovative manufacturing here, the fixtures and stuff going into building and Electric Boat is building right now. So it starts with the missile tubes coming into this facility, into – as you can see – the rotisserie fixture there. And this fixture allows the missile tubes to be worked on and outfitted out in the shop environment putting on the different packages of cooling and electrical systems and the like. As you can imagine, that’s much more efficient and a large labor saving from working on the tubes in the vertical position in the hull after they’ve been installed. And these tubes come with a section of the hull as part of the tube, and so the next fixture here is where they put four tubes together to build a quad pack and it’s the E fixture and nobody could think of a cool name like rotisserie to designate what the fixture would so we went in alphabetical order, Electric Boat did, in alphabetical
order here. You take four tubes – and they all have a section of the hull unique to them – and you weld those together and it creates four missiles joined and a section of the hull. Now they’re loading in the robotic welding that will be used for when the rest of the hull section is built around these four tubes, and to do that they take it over to the F fixture. If somebody can come up with a cool name for any of these fixtures, I’m sure Electric Boat would be happy to modify this video and use those.
So then you come into the fixture where they’ve built the remaining part of the submarine hull, and holding the tolerances is obviously a very daunting challenge and this has taken a lot of engineering development and Electric Boat has done a lot of good work on this. This is where they weld the four tubes and the hull together. Those are the robotic welders that are welding the seam down at the bottom there that no human would be able to do, we couldn’t build this way without robotic welding. And then they finish putting the section together, there’s the robot welders coming out after their job is done. There you have a quad pack, part of the submarine ready for outfitting and then you put it in the vertical position and stack them together and you have a missile compartment.

And thank you, Electric Boat, for letting me use your movie. So next is a Submarine Warfare Federated Tactical System, SWFTS. This is the main commonality, the brilliant idea that the combat system people and submarines put together of a federated system of systems that allows tailoring for each boat, but basically a common computer, common sonar is where it makes sense. The one thing I want to talk about on here – I’m not a big combat system guy from background but I’m in awe of what they do and appreciate all their efforts. Vice Admiral Hilarides’ talked a lot about cyber and as those of you understand cyber and a threat, you see here it’s a huge target with a lot of room for mischief. But the submarine community, you all doing this combat system work, we’re ahead of the game. At NAVSEA we’re working hard, as Admiral Hilarides said, on the control systems, and the combat systems, the non-IT systems for making them cyber secure. You all should be proud because the submarine group, this SWFTS group, is ahead of the rest of the Navy on cyber. Now, that’s no reason to relax or get too proud because there’s still more work to do, there are vulnerabilities there, but the way this system was designed and developed from the beginning, with the idea of multiple levels of security, has provided quite a bit of cyber protection here and you all should be proud of the work you did many, many years ago before cyber threats were even a term.

So the SWFTS is a basic 2-4 process as envisioned, it started out of the ARCI, Advanced Rapid Cots Insertion program where we would change the hardware every two years and the software on the odd years every two years to take care of obsolescence and to continue giving more capability to the war fighter. And then every four years the idea was that platforms would get updated and we would keep a highly capable, well-integrated, common training system in the fleet. So even though this commonality provides a lot of real savings, keeping this level of capability is also pretty expensive.

We, the smart people in the PARMs doing this work came up with the SWFTS tailored system. As you can see, there’s a number of platforms that are supported – they’re down on the left there – and if we were going to do hardware for every one of those every two years, even though there’s a lot of commonality, there are uniqueness. They have different sensors – only the Virginias have a chin array, for example, or a WAA [wide aperture array] and 688s don’t. But the 688s are still a main part of our fighting force and need to be supported. So we came up with a tailored system where we grouped the systems that would be upgraded and so, in reality, we only upgrade the 688’s design every four years or the Virginia’s design every four years. But we have this constant drum beat of innovation and improvement with the software and the hardware and all the platforms get advantages of all of these increased improvements. If you want to know more about it you can ask Captain Neff who’s on the panel right after me. Now, one area that I wanted to talk about is on the EM systems. This has sort of been a stepchild in the submarine community for a long time, we’ve been more concerned about sonars than the electromagnetic spectrum and other than having a new
photonics mast there didn’t seem to be a lot of innovation in this
area. But Captain Steve Debus leading this group has really
increased the exploitation of the electromagnetic spectrum, and is
probably one of the reasons he was picked as the winner of the J.
Guy Reynolds submarine acquisition award. There’s a number of
the programs he’s been leading and championed that are important
for our ongoing success in the future and just a couple of them are:
the low-profile photonics mast on the left. It is much smaller and
less detectable than the current photonics mast but because of the
innovations they put in, the fiber optics, just as capable. Again, a
commonality, not allowing the vendors to do their own way for
hooking up to the submarine, but having a common copper fiber
interface makes it easier for the ship builder and reduces cost.
The pod-based radar, it’s a commercial radar which was
basically giving the war fighter a capable militarized system of
what he’s had before with his commercial radars and it allows us
to blend in. We no longer will have a military radar that’s beeping
away, radiating away saying, “Here’s a submarine,” but we can
blend in with the traffic around us. And then the basic concept of
there’s a large electromagnetic spectrum there that we need to be
exploiting more and Captain Debus has led the way there.
There are two torpedoes in our inventory. The Mark 54 and
the Mark 48, and when you add the Tomahawk to that, that is the
extent of our weapons in the submarine community and that’s really not that great, it’s not a good state of affairs. Now, there’s a
number of programs in the R and D area that I can’t discuss here, but we are looking at other weapons. But I say to the community, we need to do a better job giving the war fighter more weapons here. One of the things to focus on, though, is the Mark 48 is kind of the volume that you have available from torpedo tubes which is one of the major vehicle water interfaces that we have, so you need to keep that in mind when you’re designing systems.

The Mark 48, mod 7 is our current torpedo. We haven’t actually built a torpedo in over fifteen years and that’s one of the projects that Admiral Johnson has been pushing to get started is torpedo restart where we refurbish these, we reuse them a lot, we

Naval Submarine League

© 2022 Naval Submarine League