05 February 2008

Virginia-class program changes boost affordability, capability

Seapower magazine has a good report on the success of the VIRGINIA class program.

Design innovations will allow the Navy to reach its goal of affording two Virginia-class submarines per year.

  • New bow design accrues millions in savings with an increase in payload capability.
  • Production savings are achieved by combining modules and changing materials.
  • Future production blocks will feature advanced sensors, weapons and communications.
The best part is from CRS analyst Ron O'Roarke:

“The program that the Navy and the shipbuilders put into place for achieving the Virginia-class cost-reduction goal has struck me as highly organized and methodical,” said Ron O’Rourke, a defense analyst for the Congressional Research Service. “Consequently, I have not been surprised to learn that it’s achieving results. At a time when other shipbuilding programs are increasing in cost, in real terms, or are viewed as being at risk of experiencing real cost growth, the Virginia-class program currently stands out as an apparent case in point in the other direction.

“I never understood why the Virginia class appears to be the only shipbuilding program that was explicitly and publicly put in the position of having to achieve its unit procurement cost target as a condition for the Navy retaining all planned ships of that type in its shipbuilding program,” he said. “It raises a question of what the recent cost performance on other shipbuilding programs might have been had they been pursued under analogous conditions.”

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