More coverage on the Virginia-class Hull Treatment:

by Craig Hooper on October 4, 2010

Comisiones Facebook – 75% De Comisiones!

jpg” alt=”” width=”300″ height=”136″ />So the Sub coating issue went national with two dueling articles from the Hawaii Advertisers’ William Cole and the AP’s David Sharp. (Gotta wonder if it would have killed you guys to, you know, cite NextNavy? Rather than just poach content??) But content poaching aside, the articles are interesting. NAVSEA is just hunkered down, waiting for the media cycle to subside.

There’s sort of a theme here. First is the regular line that these are teething problems, present only on first flight of four boats. Flight two is better, and Flight III is doing even better!!! Well, at that point it might pay to remind your enthusiastic NAVSEA spokesguy that Flight III isn’t even in the water yet, so… Then your NAVSEA spokesman might turn from artifice to analogy, using, say, the P-51 fighter–an airplane that grew from an early-production lemon into one of the best fighters ever.

The only problem is that we made thousands of P-51s. We’re only going to make 30-40 Virginia Class subs. The first four–ten percent of the future fleet–have serious, chronic problems. The Virginia has been in the water for six years, and we still don’t have it right–maybe we’re better at “managing” the problem so it is less catastrophic, but, at the end of the day, the problem doesn’t seem to be going away. Sentencing our crews to live with an issue like this–for the life of the sub–in unacceptable.

Second, the Virginia-class issue is part of a Navy-wide trend. For years, as I plugged away and bitched about the LPD-17, I got hammered, hearing talk of how I should forgive “First-in-Class” issues. People worried that outside criticism might sink the whole program and that they’d loose all the costs already sunk into the LPD-17 production line. Well look where we are at now–LPD 17 is a non-functional hulk, and the rest of ’em are not much good either.

There is a cultural unwillingness to criticize first-of-class anything in this Navy. Look what admiral Harvey says about the LPD-17:

That engines could be installed improperly is “incomprehensible,” he said. “A, that it would pass an internal quality check that way, and then B, that it would pass through the Navy’s quality control that way.”

“I think we were so focused on getting that ship into service,” he said of the frustrations of getting the ship completed, “that we rolled over a lot of issues.”

Willful blindness is no way to be successful. Then there is the cost issue. If we accept incomplete ships–where the design wrinkles have yet to be worked through–what does that cost? In our race to get the Virginia Class price-point down to somewhere in the vicinity of 2 billion dollars, did we end up accepting something that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars more to maintain? Repair? Or did we accept feeble subsystems that may compromise the entire design? That is why we need to be very, very ruthless in cialis sale finding problems in the first ship–and solving those problems before proceeding. We need to do a better job of pricing out maintenance and summing up the cost of remedial subsystem failures–and incorporating that into the procurement price (or we end up buying a high-maintenance dog for a low, low price…I mean, think about the business model that prompted our big naval contractors to get into the ship maintenance business!).

Then–and only then–should a program start making rumblings about serial production.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Fred October 20, 2010 at 10:16 pm

$2 Billion each. We could build a squadron of diesel electrics for the cost of one of these.


Richard October 20, 2010 at 3:44 am

Just recently found this blog. I’m not a vet, not in the industry, just an observer. But I can’t tell which frightens me more: In spite of major flaws, the Virginia class and San Antonio class ships passed multiple levels of testing and inspection and entered service anyway, or the state of the industrial base that produced and can’t fix them. It seems to me we’ve been kidding ourselves about our industrial capability for a long time.


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