The Navy has stood up an office to craft the next major surface combatant after more than ten years of starts and stops. On Friday, the service held a small ceremony to open the Guided-Missile Destroyer (DDG(X)) program office, designated as PMS 460 under Program Executive Office Ships, with a goal to start construction of a new design by Fiscal Year 2028, the service said in a statement provided to USNI News.
With an initial staff of 16, “DDG(X) leadership is tasked with developing an acquisition strategy, a design/technical data package and ship construction, testing, fleet introduction and sustainment plans,” reads the statement.
DDG(X) “will provide the flexibility and margins necessary to succeed the DDG-51 class as the Navy’s next enduring large surface combatant combining the DDG 51 FLT III combat systems elements with a new hull form, an efficient Integrated Power System and greater endurance reducing the fleet logistics burden.”
This will be the latest plan to succeed the retiring Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers and Arleigh Burke guided-missile destroyers after the Navy has attempted to craft requirements for a new Large Surface Combatant several times over the last ten years. This latest attempt is based on pairing the Navy’s existing Aegis combat system with the integrated electric propulsion system that was pioneered on the Zumwalt class of guided-missile destroyers.
Instead of gas turbines that have a direct mechanical connection to a ship’s propellors, DDG(X) is planned to be an electrical ship that will have the ship’s prime movers aboard powering a ship-wide electrical grid. On Zumwalt massive electric motors fed off the grid power the props, leaving excess power available for high-energy weapons like lasers or electricity hungry sensors. To that end, the Navy is merging PEO Ships’ Electric Ships office with the new destroyer office, the service said in the statement.
“The DDG(X) Integrated Power System is a key foundation of the ship and maturation in a timely and cost-effective manner requires dedicated and experienced resources within PEO,” reads the statement. “PMS 320’s expertise and previous development efforts are critical to the success of the DDG(X) program in realizing an Integrated Power System. Other mission areas of the Electric Ships Office, such as Power and Energy Systems, Naval Power Technology Development and Platforms Integration & Transition, are vital to the future of our Navy and efforts will continue under the umbrella of PMS 460.”
Moving ahead, the new PMS office has a goal of completing a preliminary design in FY 2022 in partnership with current destroyer shipyards Hunting Ingalls Industries and General Dynamics, as the Navy is in the midst of developing a formal acquisition strategy.
The Fiscal Year 2022 budget request released last week calls for about $79.7 million for conceptual development work.
“Through FY21, Navy continued Conceptual Design efforts for DDG(X) and began collaboration with DDG-51 shipyards to achieve [cost, schedule and performance targets,]” reads the statement.
“These collaborative efforts will continue into FY22 with the start of preliminary design. The PB22 budget request funds transition from conceptual design to preliminary design, brings industry teams fully onboard and continues Integrated Power System and hull form land-based test activities to ensure program risk reduction. FY22 preliminary design will lead to FY26 Detail Design and FY28 construction start.”
The new office will be led by Capt. David Hart, with Katherine Connelly as deputy program manager.