Home » Budget Industry » DDG-51 Program Office Preparing RFP for Next Multiyear Buy; Will Include Options for Additional Ships

DDG-51 Program Office Preparing RFP for Next Multiyear Buy; Will Include Options for Additional Ships

Streamers mix with falling snow during the christening of the future guided-missile destroyer USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116) at the Bath Iron Works shipyard Saturday, April 1, 2017 in Bath, Maine. US Navy photo.

WASHINGTON NAVY YARD — The Navy is preparing to release the request for proposals (RFP) for at least 10 Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers (DDG-51), with a presolicitation notice going out on Dec. 14 and the RFP set for release within the next month, the DDG-51 program manager told USNI News.

Capt. Casey Moton said the multiyear contract, which covers Fiscal Years 2018 through 2022, would be written in a flexible way to account for some uncertainty in destroyer acquisition rates in the coming years.

In the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2018, which has already been signed into law, the House and Senate authorizers gave the Navy permission to buy as many as 15 ships in the upcoming multiyear procurement contract. However, the House and Senate appropriators have not yet agreed to that: the House defense spending bill does not specify a quantity of ships for the upcoming contract, but the Senate defense spending bill allows for just 10 ships in the contract.

Additionally, the DDG-51 program is one of the top two talked-about programs for early efforts in a Navy buildup to a 355-ship fleet, but the specifics of that buildup have not yet been hashed out.

“For [the current fiscal year, 2018], I think we’re at Navy’s budget request, which is two ships, unless something were to happen in final conference on the approps bill,” Moton told USNI News. The NDAA added funding for a third ship this year but the appropriators do not seem interested in providing the money to buy that additional DDG, though they’ve yet to pass a final defense spending bill for the year.
“For future ships, we’re planning on an options construct in the RFP to give us the flexibility of added ships if we need to. And we’re doing that for two reasons: one is because we know that occasionally Congress tries to add ships, and we’re also doing that because obviously there’s a lot of work going on in the Navy and on the Hill on a path to 355, and so from a contractual standpoint we wanted to have a construct in place that would allow us to ramp up if we needed.”

The five-year shipbuilding contract is planned to be awarded to the two builders, Bath Iron Works and Ingalls Shipbuilding, by the end of the current fiscal year.

Capt. Casey Moton, right, program manager for DDG 51 Class, presses a button to begin fabrication of the future USS Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG 123) while Paul Bosarge, Huntington Ingalls Industries burner/work leaderman points and observes. The formal fabrication ceremony was at Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding yard in Pascagoula, Miss, Wednesday, Jan. 25. US Navy photo.

Moton said that the program, now more than 60 destroyers into production and moving into its fourth flight design, has an “incredible cost baseline” to help inform cost estimates for the upcoming block buy. He said he’s confident in the new Flight III design, which will be introduced in two of the final three hulls of the current multiyear contract, and he said he’s confident the Navy will achieve the required 10-percent cost savings through buying the destroyers in a multi-ship multiyear deal. With the contract expected to yield about $1.8 billion in savings, “it’s like an extra ship, the multiyear gets us an extra ship.”

Moton said he could not discuss how the options would be handled – whether the builders would bid on them now or after Congress makes additional funds available – or other details of the competitive strategy ahead of the bidding process. But he did drive home that “I firmly believe that both shipyards are able to compete for this contract and are able to compete with each other strongly. I truly believe that. And so obviously I can’t disclose what our competitive strategy is going to be … but we’ve done a huge amount of work preparing for our RFP release and how we’re going to handle the competition.”

This FY18-22 contract would begin with DDG-128. The Navy earlier this year finalized a deal with Ingalls and BIW to insert the Flight III design upgrade into the end of the current multiyear contract, with hulls 125 at Ingalls and 126 at Bath being Flight III ships. DDG-127, which Congress added to Navy shipbuilding plans and incrementally paid for in 2016 and 2017, will be built by Bath Iron Works in the Flight IIA configuration.

“The fact that both builders are on contract for Flight III, we think it positions us well for the next multiyear,” Moton said.

  • DaSaint

    DDG-127 has to be switched to a Flight III configuration. It makes no sense that DDG-125 and -126 are Flight IIIs, and DDG-127 reverts to a Flight IIA, unless the Navy is telling BIW that it has no confidence in that yard having the capacity or capability of doing 2 Flight IIIs in quick succession.

    • Secundius

      DDG-126, was Funded under the Defense Appropriation Bill in 2013, while DDG-127 was funded under a Total Different NONE Defense Appropriation Bill in 2016 (i.e. “ Special” or Gap Filler). I know that Doesn’t make sense, but when did the US Congress start Making Sense on Anything…

      • DaSaint

        I get that. The head scratching comes from the decision to build as a IIA, while they’ve stated building a III, and then continue building IIIs.

        But you’re right. Why would I expect it to make sense?

      • Ken Adams

        Did the gap filler specify construction as a Flight IIA, or was that the Navy’s call?

        • Secundius

          They Specifically said a Flight IIA Construction, NOT as a Flight III. I’s starting to speculate “IF” the DDG-127 is a Replacement for Either a “Too Badly Damaged Flight IIA” or as a Replacement in Hull Only for a “Tico” of similar capabilities…

    • Rhino601

      DDG 1000 have upset BIW and delayed Burkes.

  • Secundius

    How is this going play with 2011 Sequester, which Officially End until Mid-2021…

    • Duane

      I understand that Congressional leaders are working to devise a two-year sequester-relief bill, similar to each of the previous two-year sequester relief bills done in 2013 and 2015. There would be a need for another two-year sequester relief bill before the sequester is finally allowed to die its deserved death in FY-2021.

      What is the big question mark, however, is what happens in the next two elections. The Democrats are not necessarily anti-defense, but they are definitely pro-non-defense spending. They may get rolled in this year’s 2-year relief bill, but if they win the House and/or Senate next November, things will definitely change.

      • Secundius

        I’ll believe that when they Actually Do It…

  • Duane

    Has anyone seen anything about the design of the Flight IVs, which apparently will get started with this next new batch?

    It would be a good time to start thinking about next gen capabilities, such as enlarged electrical plants to accommodate EM weapons. Perhaps also expanding the VLS capacity to eventually replace the Ticos, even if they get the life extensions the Navy wants.

    • sferrin

      You’re thinking Flight IIIs. No such thing as Flight IVs.

      • Duane

        The article here referred to the “fourth flight design”, which I took to mean a future Flight IV .. but perhaps they are treating Flight II and IIA as separate flight designs … if there is not a Flight IV now in the works for the DDG-51s, then there is still a future large surface combatant intended to both replace the Ticos and follow up the truncated DDG-1000s and quite likely also succeed the last generation of Arleigh Burkes. In the Navy’s current 355 ship fleet plan, they list simply “large surface combatants”, which entails some combination of the DDG-51s, DDG-1000s (just three), Ticonderoga CGs, and replacements or follow ons for each of the existing LSCs.

        • Spectreoneone

          Flight II ships (DDGs 72-78) are a completely separate design from Flight IIA ships (DDGs 79 and up), so the article is correct in stating that Flight III DDGs are the fourth Flight in the Arleigh Burke class.

      • Secundius

        Actually There IS! Unfortunately at the Present Time the Flight IV is just a Concept of a Piece of Paper. And Nothing More…

        • sferrin

          Which means it doesn’t exist. And they really should just end with the Flight IIIs. The Tico replacements are more pressing and should be based on the DDG-1000 as they were meant to be. The USN is making a huge mistake right now in ending DDG-1000 production.

          • Secundius

            The basic Design Concept at the present time is based on the Italian PPA or “Pattugliatoro Polivlenti d’Alturi” Frigate. US version being called a LSDG (Logistic Support Destroyer Guided-Missile). If you “Google” the Italian PPA it’ll give a Visual Reference of what the Concept look like. But Larger…

  • BlueSky47

    Flight IIa or III, it really doesn’t matter, because these are real WARships with proven capabilities and toughness. All I can say is thank God we’re still building real warships and that our entire build plan doesn’t consist of little (actually large) crappy ships, i.e. the LCS. I’d take one of these over an entire fleet of worthless and fragile LCS any day or war (I see the Fleet Admiral is loading up for a broadside…)

  • publius_maximus_III

    Looking good!

  • Ed L

    Beautiful Warships

  • airider

    The DDG 51’s have been very successful.

    However, if “speed to the fleet” is really as important as leadership keeps stating it is, then the Navy is going about it all wrong. Designing ships and submarines for 30-50 year design life does two major things.

    1) Ensures that the ships and submarines that are built are hugely expensive and take a long time to field.
    2) New and/or rapidly changing designs will never get incorporated.

    Fail fast, fail often, and try again quickly doesn’t fit with the current shipbuilding model.

    Honestly, if this “speed to the fleet” concept is fully implemented, nuke power would be out, and SRA’s would only happen once before the platform was decommissioned and recycled. The contractors would only be around to “build to print” with the Navy fully in charge of the design and building the first articles (LRIP) for validation. The contractors would then bid to do full rate production and focus on pumping the suckers out as efficiently as possible.

    Since this isn’t happening, then “speed to the fleet” is a hollow requirement and not backed up with any real acquisition changes.

    ….and LCS is NOT a “speed to the fleet” example, but they will be thrown away in about 10-15 years.

    • Old Salt

      It’s been 11 years since the first LCS was launched, that means it’s already reached it’s supposed mid-life span point. Bottom line, we’re going to start retiring LCS before they are able to do anything-such irony.

      • airider

        Yep and how many deployments has each LCS made? …one…that’ll keep them around a bit longer. If LCS keeps deploying like the Europeans do, they can survive a long time, but will be a total waste.

  • Rhino601

    Where is the TICO replacement design?