By Geoff Fein

The Navy’s next-generation cruiser, CG(X), must be built as a mod repeat, its subsystems should be flexible and the ship and the combat systems should be developed as an integrated effort, a former Northrop Grumman [NOC] official said.

Speaking at last month’s American Society of Naval Engineers (ASNE) conference in Arlington, Va., Clark "Corky" Graham, former senior vice president of Northrop Grumman Ship systems, said there are five fundamental tenaets of the right approach to CG(X) and that all five are based on the reality that the ship must meet today’s, and future threats.

Additionally, CG(X) must be affordable, he told attendees, so that industry can build the ship in sufficient numbers.

Graham said there are three reasons as to why CG(X) should be a mod repeat.

"We should recapture the significant investment we have already made in the many new platforms of ships we have already introduced to the Navy," he said. "In today’s fiscally constrained environment, we cannot afford to start and find another 10 or so billion dollars to start from scratch."

There also needs to be an emphasis on commonality when it comes to building CG(X), Graham noted. "Commonality of combat systems and commonality of HME sub systems, so that we don’t proliferate new solutions to the fleet."

Maybe most important, Graham said, is that industry needs the naval architectural constraint of an existing platform to discipline the requirements setters in the Pentagon and in the technical community. "Because we cannot afford to set unrealistic requirements, which will lead to unaffordable solutions."

The second tenet is that the mod repeat that CG(X) should be built upon should be DDG-1000.

Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics [GD] have both been awarded contracts to build the first two Zumwalt-class combat ships.

Graham said of the several alternatives possible for the mod repeat only DDG-1000 proved to be a viable option. Using LPD-17 wouldn’t work because the ship is too big and a 21- knot amphibious ship would be too costly to redesign as a multi-pupose surface combatant.

On the other end, at 9,200 tons, DDG-51 is too small.

"It contains architectures and technologies that are almost two and a half decades old and they are not fundamentally open," Graham said. "That is a dead ended solution, without sufficient capacity to grow and meet tomorrow’s threat."

The right solution, Graham added, is DDG-1000.

"At approximately 15,000 tons it’s right sized. It will be designed with open architectures in combat systems and HME. It has been designed with producibility in mind, and we will find out shortly that that ship requires significantly less man hours per ton of ship to build than either the DDG-51 or previous CG-47, because it was designed with modularity and producibility and openness from the keel up," he said.

"Furthermore, DDG-1000 has already been designed to be upgraded to a cruiser configuration, so the DDG-1000 in my mind is the right modified repeat solution for CG(X)," Graham added.

The third tenet, Graham said, is that subsystems for CG(X) need to be scalable and flexible.

Those subsystems should incorporate all the features of open architecture, he added.

And all 19 planned CG(X)s that the Navy intends to build do not have to have the same capability, Graham noted.

"We should be able to change the capability and flex the capability of each of the ships in the class during the service life," he said. "To put teeth in this concept, the Navy and industry should establish KPPs, critical performance parameters, that specify that the ship can be scaled and flexed during the service life with no hot work, with no significant rip out and change to the ship."

The fourth tenet, Graham said, is that CG(X) and its combat systems should be designed in a disciplined design-to-cost environment.

"I do not agree that you set requirements first and then you determine the cost of the ship. That strategy will absolutely guarantee that the first iterations of the ship will be totally unaffordable, and we will dither years before we iterate into a solution that will be affordable and allow us to build sufficient numbers of ships," he said.

"Realistic budget targets must be established, with the beginning of the establishment of requirements. And then requirements versus cost must be a continual trade, and disciplined, realistic, cost estimates must be established from day one," Graham added.

The final tenaet for a successful CG(X) program is making sure the ship and the combat systems are developed and acquired together.

"I don’t agree with the discussion where a combat system was proposed to be developed separately from any targeted platform," he said. "When you do that, you miss the opportunity of engineering out the white space, of engineering out the excess cost, weight, volume, power, and cooling between each element of the ship. Principally, the combat systems and the platform and inevitably modules get put on the interfaces and the total solution results in a large ship and a more costly ship, something we can’t afford."