WASHINGTON – The US Navy is prepared to pay more for new ships up front if that means savings in maintenance and personnel costs throughout the life of the program, said this week at the industry responsible for amphibious, auxiliary and maritime transport programs.
Tom Rivers, whose programs report to the Ship Program Executive Office, said “design for maintainability and flexibility” is one of the main areas of focus for PEO ships. He said this will influence how the Navy pursues several new upcoming programs, including the Light Amphibious Warship (LAW), the Next Generation Logistics Vessel, a new submarine tender, a new ocean surveillance and the new generation destroyer DDG (X). .
“LAW is a good example of design for maintainability,” he said during a panel discussion at the Navy League’s annual Sea Air Space conference. “Having reliable equipment that doesn’t require much operator intervention to maintain will allow LAW to manage a small workforce, which is the goal. This may require a larger initial investment in better quality equipment, but we are prepared to do so to offset the cost of the sailor in the future.
Rivers added that LAW will include sensors and monitors that not only allow condition-based maintenance, where managers can see how well a system is performing and perform data-driven maintenance, but also maintenance-based maintenance. on remote conditions. The small crew may not be the recipient of the data, but regional center maintenance managers could receive the data remotely and help plan maintenance periods in the vessel’s operational plans.
Rivers said Team Ships is focusing on exploiting data to a greater extent, to improve performance in both shipbuilding and vessel maintenance. The two halves of Team Ships – PEO Ships on the build side, SEA21 on the modernization side – have war rooms set up to track the performance of ship programs and take a more analytical approach to improving the business.
Another priority area for PEO Ships is the on-time delivery of new build ships, an effort facilitated by this war room setup.
A third area of interest is increased industry engagement, and Rivers said the LAW program is a good example of this as well. The Navy has hosted several industry days and industry engagements for LAW, and Rivers said that would likely be the norm going forward, rather than having a single industry day. He said it would also be important to hire lower tier suppliers, especially if the Navy wants to see more reliable parts that support the concept of condition-based maintenance.
The DDG (X) Destroyer Program Office, which rose in June, has already led an early industry engagement to help develop the requirements for the ship, which will put the program’s combat system and radar to Flight III destroyer Arleigh Burke on a new shaped hull with an integrated power system that can support larger and more power-hungry sensors and weapons in the future.
“We predict that DDGX will be the most capable surface fighter on the planet in the 2030s and all decades to come,” Rivers said. But to achieve this, he added, the Navy and industry must stay on track with the ship’s design and development schedule.