NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — A Navy official recently said the service is willing to pay more for a new ship upfront if that translates into improved costs on maintainability and sustainment for the life of a ship.
The Light Amphibious Warship (LAW), in particular, “is a good example of the design for maintainability, the key tenant of our acquisition approach” Tom Rivers, executive director of Amphibious, Auxiliary and Sealift at Program Executive Office for Ships, said during an Aug. 4 panel discussion at the Navy League’s annual Sea Air Space expo.
“Highly reliable equipment that does not require a lot of operator action to maintain will enable LAW to handle reduced manning, which, that’s the goal. It may require a larger upfront investment in the higher-quality equipment, but we’re willing to do that to offset the sustainment cost in the future. But really the focus is on the service life of the vessel.”
The Navy is developing the LAW to transport up to 75 Marines up to 3,000-4,000 miles while holding extra cargo and fuel. It is expected to be 200 to 400 feet long and support the Marine Littoral Regiment.
In January, Marine Maj. Gen. Tracy King, director of Expeditionary Warfare (OPNAV N95), said the Navy Department was planning to begin research, development, test and evaluation in one year and buy the first LAW by late fiscal year 2022 (Defense Daily, Jan. 14).
Rivers also said the LAW is expected to have equipment, sensors and monitors allowing both conditions-based maintenance and remote access by maintainers to aid in condition-based maintenance.
“Our goal is to ensure that for all equipment, maintenance requirements are understood and the plan is the design phase will include sufficient maintenance envelopes to properly have access to all the equipment,” he added.
Conditions-based maintenance allows maintainers to see how a system is running and have performance data help guide the necessary maintenance.
“While conditions-based maintenance is not new, we are learning from the past on how to better use it and employ it in the future. So I think you will see a real emphasis on that capability,” Rivers said.
He noted another priority for PEO Ships is working with industry to streamline delivery on new ships.
“We are committed to find ways to streamline and produce the effectiveness in the timeline and the process itself. Because we really need to focus on delivering ships on time. We believe that on-time delivery of our combatant ships is really our number one priority within the PEO right now.”
Rivers highlighted how PEO Ships is trying to improve and get more analytical in approaching future systems by using a war room focused on data metrics and data analytics.
The war room aims to track performance and keep the teams aligned across prime contractors and maintain a common view of what to focus on.
PEO Ships along with SEA21, working on modernization and sustainment, comprise Team Ships and Rivers said both are working with data analytics, with SEA21 ahead on that front.
“Our war room basically helps to stay aligned throughout the primes and provides us with the…stakeholder’s common view of what we’re focused on across the spectrum,” Rivers said.
He said the team is developing and adopting a performance to plan framework for data analytics and decision making in the shipbuilding process.
“We’re getting more analytical in how we approach things in the future,” Rivers said.
Another focus of PEO Ships is increasing industry engagement and adding more industry days.
Rivers underscored LAW as another example of “where we had more industry involvement. We’re engaging with our shipyards in terms of industry days” and engaging with sub-tier suppliers.
“Because it’s not just one organization, it’s a whole holistic vertical integration that we’re looking at these…for all our programs,” he continued.
Rivers said they are looking to expand the quality of industry days and open to feedback on how best to do that.
“Some of our most recent shipbuilding programs have had multiple industry day engagements and I think that’s the way we’re going to see it going forward in the future. Why? Because collectively, we’re the ones that are doing the joint mission to build the ships that we need for the Navy.”