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PEO Subs Working To Buy Back Schedule in Ohio Replacement Program

The Ohio-class fleet ballistic-missile submarine USS Maryland (SSBN 738) off the coast of Florida ON Sept. 31, 2016.

The Ohio-class fleet ballistic-missile submarine USS Maryland (SSBN 738) off the coast of Florida ON Sept. 31, 2016.

The Program Executive Office for Submarines is working to create schedule and cost efficiencies on the Ohio Replacement (Columbia class) Program to counteract inevitable delays during construction, he said last week.

Rear Adm. Michael Jabaley said at the Naval Submarine League’s annual symposium that the first ship in the Navy’s most important acquisition program absolutely had to deliver on time – even though previous delays during early design work complicated that task.

“The biggest problem we have is there is no margin between the decommissioning of Ohios and the delivery of Ohio Replacements. And anyone who has been involved in shipbuilding knows that there will be unknowns that pop up and cause delays to the schedule,” he said.
“So my job is to try to buy margin back into that schedule so that when the inevitable unknown presents itself it’s not a fatal collision within the construction plan. So to buy that margin back into the schedule, we’re looking at targeted elements of the ship where we can accelerate construction through the use of advance procurement funding or advance construction authority to start those parts earlier and de-risk that schedule.”

PEO Subs is working with Congress to get needed contracting authorities and advance procurement and advance construction funding, and Jabaley said that effort will ultimately “provid[e] a significant benefit for schedule de-risking.”

To reduce the risk of the program from a cost standpoint, Jabaley said the Ohio Replacement and Virginia-class attack submarine program officials – as well as nuclear-powered aircraft carrier personnel in some cases, and the prime contractors and vendor base that support all three ship programs – are working together to align material purchases and construction schedules.

On materials, Jabaley said “we the government have to get the volume discount that should accrue by combined purchasing of all the things you’re going to need for the two different classes of submarines, and here’s where the carrier comes in because a lot of the components are similar or identical on the carrier when you get to the nuclear power plant, nuclear shipbuilding concerns. … That’s a volume discount price that we need to take advantage of. In order to do that, we have to reinforce with our vendor base that this mountain of work is facing them as well and that they need to ensure that their quality, their cost and their capacity is ready to accomplish that.”

The admiral noted that PEO Subs has conducted an analysis of the top 25 suppliers to the submarine programs and is working with them to make sure they are ready to execute an increased workload and provide fair volume discounts. Within the government, Jabaley said the program offices are working to ensure that requirements are written such that the SSBNs, SSNs and nuclear carriers can all share parts such as chilled water pumps. This type of multi-program procurement would require special contracting authority that the Navy will brief lawmakers on and seek approval in the next year or two, Jabaley said.

As the Ohio Replacement Program moves towards construction – and as the Virginia subs become larger and more complex with the addition of the Virginia Payload Module and acoustic superiority design changes, the Navy is working closely with builders General Dynamics Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding to finalize plans for facility expansions, manpower and training plans, and simulations of how components for two or three ship classes will move through the yards without conflicting with each other.

Jabaley said the final teaming arrangement between Electric Boat and Newport News would be outlined in the ship construction contract, but he said he expects the arrangement to largely mirror how they collaborate on the Virginia subs. This unified strategy, across two yards and two submarine programs, means the Navy can pull more levers to achieve a common good – an early example being the announcement that Newport News would deliver more attack subs to free up Electric Boat to take on more Ohio Replacement work.

Where feasible, each yard will work on the same parts of ORP as they do on the Virginia class, he said.

“The key here is relying on what has already become a center of excellent in one location and continuing to focus on that.”

For all the planning the PEO has done to ensure future program success, Jabaley said ORP is at a precarious situation right now. It needs four things to happen in concert, with two of them being out of the Navy’s control: Milestone B approval to send the program into engineering and manufacturing development and system acquisition, which the Pentagon is expected to approve this week; a contract award to complete the ship design, which is still in negotiation between the Navy and the shipyards; a transition from research and development dollars to shipbuilding and conversion funds, which happens in the Fiscal Year 2017 budget; and the actual appropriation of FY 2017 funds, which has not yet occurred. Jabaley said the program can get along under the current continuing resolution until the end of the calendar year, but starting 2017 without a proper funding bill will bar the service from the shipbuilding dollars it needs to pay for design work under the impending contract and move forward with post-Milestone B activities.

  • Jffourquet

    Prior planning to prevent piss poor performance.

  • Western

    Makes sense. While you are at it, might take a look at what it would take to add two shipyards to the inventory. Taking back Mare Island might be worth the effort.

  • Curtis Conway

    This program cries out for the establishment of an Integrated Product Team (IPT). “The biggest problem we have is there is no margin between the decommissioning of Ohios and the delivery of Ohio Replacements. And anyone who has been involved in shipbuilding knows that there will be unknowns that pop up and cause delays to the schedule,” . . .

    Solution? Integrated Product Team (IPT)! Everyone involved in the process from the Librarian, engineer, manufacturing reps, right down to the Welding Supervisor representative should be involved in the planning, review, and manufacture process. The synergistic affect will serve this task well.

    Individuals on the team must feel like they are, and be able to participate on, a full member status on the team, and their voice will be heard. This is missing in so many programs. It is one of the reasons the KC-46A Pegasus Tanker experienced problems with the boom. Either KC-10A Extender qualified “Boomers” were not on the team, or they did not feel sufficiently confident about expressing the fact that the torsion stresses on the boom could cause pressure to fluctuate to the point of causing the flow to be shut down by the digital control mechanisms when pressure spiked during those torsional events. The bypass lights and flow lines were a no-brainer, and exist on the KC-10 boom for a reason, and the IPT ignored that requirement, or ignored that requirement thinking it wasn’t important (first solution suggested was a software fix), which cost them dearly in time waiting for the fix to be installed, further delaying the program. These types of details are required to be addressed BEFORE you start production, or dealt with as quickly as they are discovered, and addressed in a expeditious manner. ‘The devil is in the details’, and a lot of common sense enters into the process when it is discovered before [or as] construction begins, and the fact that it was ignored by those ‘who only deal in the abstract’ suggest finding solutions that do not work in the real world, which is EXACTLY why you put together a IPT with all that experience brought to the table.

    The fact that the “…Virginia subs become larger and more complex with the addition of the Virginia Payload Module and acoustic superiority design changes…” cries out for an IPT. So, if you want to squeeze more efficiency out of the process, an IPT is the way to go, even in a highly classified program.

    Curt’s Laws that apply:
    Rule # 4) Context is everything
    Rule # 5) Forewarned is forearmed
    Rule # 6) Be upfront, forthright, and above board at all times, for when you cease to be, decisions will be made based upon the unknown.
    Rule # 7) Always have a plan “B”
    Rule # 8) Code of Federal Regulations Authority Chain => Constitution of the United States of America => Declaration of Independence => Magna Carta => 10 Commandments => G-d
    Rule # 9) Learn from history or you are bound to repeat it
    Rule # 10) Everything has a place, and every place has a thing
    Rule # 11) There is nothing as constant as change, and there is always room for improvement
    Rule # 12) Take care of your people and they will take care of the tasking
    Rule # 13) Lead by example
    Rule # 15) Plan for your life, live your plan, or you are planning to fail
    Rule # 18) The devil is in the details
    Rule # 19) Keep it simple (KISS) because you don’t want to own the last “S”
    Rule # 20) Always takes the ‘Easiest Path’:
    a. Water
    b. People
    c. Electricity
    Rule # 22) Deal in every situation from a position of knowledge and strength
    Rule # 23) In the absence of empirical data, everything is conjecture
    Rule # 30) Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result
    Rule # 45) You can delegate authority, but you can never delegate responsibility. This law is the genesis of Lawful Orders.
    Rule # 47) If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
    Rule # 48) Words have meaning. One cannot just solve problems by redefining the terms of the argument, for Truth is not served, and man is not the author and arbiter of Truth. See rule #8.

  • John B. Morgen

    The number of hulls should be double, but with fewer number of SLBMs per a hull. Thereby increasing the number of SSBNs on patrol, which will ensured nuclear deterrence much better than having fewer hulls as originally planned..