Been a very busy week here in these last few days in the run-up to the Inauguration — new folks arriving, some departing, new Congressional session and attendant questions  – lots of questions, lots of briefs and also burning the midnight oil on the book project, so posting has been a bit light of late.   Here is an interesting article to tide you over until we get this week’s (belated) Flightdeck Friday up sometime this weekend…SJS 

Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the Navy (USA) in the Carter and Reagan administrations, Everett Pyatt, bangs the drum on an increasingly familiar theme here and other places in the ‘sphere.  Over at Real Clear World he opens:

The U.S. Navy shipbuilding program has run aground, high tides are not projected and heavy winds are blowing ashore. Sound bad? It is. And the situation is particularly disturbing for those who believe that a nautical pax Americana best serves world peace and stability.

Asserting a lack of leadership and uninformed planning within the uniformed and civilian Navy, particularly in the acquisition realm, he forecasts a force of 200 ships by 2018, based on lost procurement and projected retirements.  Besides tossing some well aimed stones, he does offer a prescription for improvement which, in summary entails:

  1. The obvious – dfine a long-term building plan geared towards producing 10-14 ships peryear within a budget of $11-12B per year (excluding overhauls, SLEOP, etc.).  Such a plan maintains a 313 ship Navy.
  2. Stop work on DDG-1000 and CVN-78 and use remaining funds to build groups of the latest flight of DDG-51’s and CVN-77 configured Nimitz-class CVNs for the next two decades.
  3. Try to “recover something” from the LCS program.  Here he is a little non-specific in what exactly is to be recovered – dollars? technology? re-channel to a foreign design license-built in the US?
  4. Review current designs on the drawing board, particularly the nuke cruiser and next class of SSBNs (which will be needed within the decade) and sort through alternatives – one of which he is apparently fond of is a modification, similar to the initial Polaris subs, of an existing SSN platform.
  5. “Make the Navy more relevant in today’s conflicts”  I think the 16,000+ IA’s, carrier-based air over Afghanistan, among others, might have something to say – but snark aside, it is obvious the focus here is on the problem d’jour – piracy off the HOA and in the Gulf of Aden.  An anti-piracy force based on a heavy-lift ship deploying high-speed skiffs and supported by airborne surveillance provided by blimps and/or UAVs is the proffered solution. 
  6. Fix NGFS – first step of which is getting the Navy and Marines to once and for all come to terms with what exactly is needed – and if it turns out to be dedicated fire support, then a unique class of up to four ships, employing a current hull form and deploying PGMs, T-LAMs and RPV’s to provide spotting and armed recce should be built.
  7. “(I)increase the experience levels and staff levels of acquisition planners, program managers, procurement personnel, engineers, cost estimators, lawyers and associated personnel…Project management is a profession, not a part-time job.” In that context a retrun to the General Board might also be in order.

Your thoughts?

1 Comment

  1. My .02-

    1. 313 is not enough-it should be a first bench mark to get to 350 then 400. The latter numbers would come from a mix of cheap european designs and high end ships. That’s a stimulus program for the economy by the way….

    2. Stop DDG-1000, but not CVN 78. It is not aviation that is killing shipbuilding.

    3. Screw LCS being all things to all people. Find an economical European design that works and build lots.

    4. Do we really need SSBN’s any more? If so, just build new Ohios every other year.

    5. The Navy is relevant and would be moreso if it had more ships. Stop IA’s too.

    6. Bring back the battleships! Or at least put an 8 inch gun on the new CGN. Yes, build some CGN’s.

    7. With all due respect, having watched other agencies I’m not so sure that we get value out of career AP folks. How about making it simpler to buy things? Also, I would slow down the “career” flow to give URL’s more time to spend doing an acquisition tour. But at the same time-reduce DOD involvement in the process and empower the services more. Do away with broad DOD agencies that add an extra layer of bureauracracy.

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