The U.S. Navy released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to Huntington Ingalls Industries’ [HII] Newport News Shipbuilding to help define possible cost savings when purchasing CVN-80 and 81 as a two-ship buy

The service said it has been working with HII for several months to estimate the total cost savings the Navy could achieve by combining the procurement of the next two Gerald R. Ford-class carriers.

The future USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78). Photo: U.S. Navy by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell/Released.
The future USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78). Photo: U.S. Navy by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell/Released.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition (RDA) James Geurts told the House Armed Services Committee earlier this month the Navy was studying the utility of a two-carrier buy with HII and would not have a final answer on whether it saves enough on cost until after the spring (Defense Daily, March 7).

He also noted the Navy was about halfway through the buying work on the first carrier so it is still figuring out what possible future savings are available.

“In keeping with the National Defense Strategy, the Navy developed an acquisition strategy to combine the CVN-80 and CVN-81 procurements to better achieve the Department’s objectives of building a more lethal force with greater performance and affordability,” Geurts said in a statement on Monday.

He added the two-ship opportunity depends on the government and shipbuilder demonstrating substantial savings.

“The Navy is requesting a proposal from HII-NNS in order to evaluate whether we can achieve significant savings.”

The Navy noted the service has used two-ship buys as a contracting strategy since the 1980s when procuring Nimitz-class carriers. Geurts told committee members at the hearing that those Nimitz-class two-ship buys historically led to about 10 percent savings.

The service said while it is gathering information on a two-ship buy it is still pursuing contract actions needed to continue CVN-80 fabrication in FY ’18 and preserve the current schedule.

The Navy plans to award the CVN-80 construction contract in early FY ’19. Pending significant savings and congressional approval, this would be part of the two-ship buy.

Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems Vice Adm. William Merz told the committee the service is looking at increasing carrier procurement rates from the current once every five years to every 4 or 3.5 years, which could help increase the affordability of a combined purchase.

However, Merz said even 3.5 years centers on procurement is not aggressive enough to achieve the Navy’s 12 carrier goal before the 2050s-2060s.

CVN-80 will be the third Ford-class carrier and named the USS Enterprise. CVN-81 has not been named yet.