By Geoff Fein

DDG-1000 is further along in design than any previous surface combatant at the time of contract award, easing fears that with slightly more than half of the design complete, construction costs could increase, Navy officials said.

Detail design for the Navy’s next generation surface combatant is 55 percent complete, and according to the Navy is on schedule to be 85 percent complete before the start of fabrication in August.

“We feel very comfortable where they are in the 55 percent, and you have to remember there were a lot of different design products…and the requirements have been stable for a long time,” Allison Stiller, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy, research, development and acquisition ship programs, told reporters during a briefing last week.

However, not all zones begin fabrication at the start of fabrication date, Lt. Cmdr. John Schofield, a Navy spokesman, told Defense Daily.

“The zones that do begin fabrication on the start fabrication date will be 100 percent complete with detail design and will have undergone two-dimensional drawing extraction, which produces the drawings that are used for actual construction of the ship,” he said. “Each zone, as it reaches its individual start fabrication date, will likewise be 100 percent complete with detail design.”

Design of the mission systems is now nearly 100 percent complete and each system will have passed its Production Readiness Review (PRR) before the ship starts its fabrication date, Schofield said.

Last week the Navy awarded DDG-1000 construction contracts to General Dynamics’ [GD] Bath Iron Works and Northrop Grumman [NOC] Shipbuilding (Defense Daily, Feb. 19). The ships are being built under a unique dual-lead ship effort in which both shipyards will be responsible for not only building a ship, but for building components for the other yard. Bath will build DDG-1000, the USS Zumwalt, and Northrop Grumman will build the yet unnamed, DDG- 1001.

Under terms of the dual-lead ship acquisition plan, Bath will construct the DDG-1001 mid forebody. Northrop Grumman will build the superstructure and hangar for DDG-1000.

DDG-1000 will be delivered to the Navy in April 2013. Initial Operational Capability is planned for late 2014, and DDG-1000 will deploy in 2015 (Defense Daily, Feb. 19).

DDG-1001 will be delivered in June 2014.

At 55 percent complete for detail design, DDG-1000 is further along than DDG-51 or the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) were at the same stage.

DDG-51 was zero percent complete at contract award and 20 percent at fabrication. LCS was zero and less than 25 percent, and the Virginia class was 40 percent and 85 percent at fabrication, according to the Navy.

The Navy did a lot to benchmark Virginia, Rear Adm. Charles Goddard, program executive officer ships, told reporters.

“If you go back and look at Virginia, it’s been our most successful design on a lead ship that we’ve executed in terms of how that went through production. [There was a] limited amount of rework that had to be done because of the design,” he said. “So we folded a lot of those lessons learned…it starts with the design build spec and the incorporation of Naval Vessel Rules (NVR) and Critical Design Review (CDR) we conducted in August ’05. At that point we signed off on all the specs and signed off on how NVR [was] going to be applicable. Remember this is a year after the LCS problem where specs were done in parallel.”

Among the issues contractors point to for leading to cost overruns on LCS was the fact the Navy incorporated NVR after construction on the lead ship, Lockheed Martin‘s [LMT] USS Freedom (LCS-1), started.

“We had a year to incorporate them into the critical design review so they were there and stable, so through detailed design, Jim Syring (DDG-1000 program manager) hasn’t had any of those issues,” Goddard said.

System design for DDG-1000 is complete and 90 percent of the calculations are done, Stiller said.

The next step in the process, Goddard added, is designing the systems as part of what the Navy calls functional design. “That’s the first thing that gets fed into these 3-D CAD (computer-aided design) systems.”

“This tells you how many pumps, how big the pumps, how big the valves are, how many cables…all of those kind of things that need to get done,” Goddard said. “So that analysis, as Allison said, is largely done today.”

Most, if not all of, the vendor furnished information is delivered, at least preliminarily, and most of it final, Syring said. And that has all been incorporated into the design already.

“[Capt. Jim Syring, DDG-1000 program manager] can virtually walk through all of his machinery spaces and habitability spaces now and see all that in a 3-D tool,” Goddard said.