[Senate Hearing 115-857]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
S. Hrg. 115-857
NAVY SHIPBUILDING PROGRAMS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON SEAPOWER
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
UNITED STATES SENATE
ONE HUNDRED FIFTEENTH CONGRESS
NOVEMBER 27, 2018
Printed for the use of the Committee on Armed Services
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COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
JAMES M. INHOFE, Oklahoma, Chairman JACK REED, Rhode Island
ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi BILL NELSON, Florida
DEB FISCHER, Nebraska CLAIRE McCASKILL, Missouri
TOM COTTON, Arkansas JEANNE SHAHEEN, New Hampshire
MIKE ROUNDS, South Dakota KIRSTEN E. GILLIBRAND, New York
JONI ERNST, Iowa RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, Connecticut
THOM TILLIS, North Carolina JOE DONNELLY, Indiana
DAN SULLIVAN, Alaska MAZIE K. HIRONO, Hawaii
DAVID PERDUE, Georgia TIM KAINE, Virginia
TED CRUZ, Texas ANGUS S. KING, JR., Maine
LINDSEY GRAHAM, South Carolina MARTIN HEINRICH, New Mexico
BEN SASSE, Nebraska ELIZABETH WARREN, Massachusetts
TIM SCOTT, South Carolina GARY C. PETERS, Michigan
JON KYL, Arizona
John Bonsell, Staff Director
Elizabeth L. King, Minority Staff Director
Subcommittee on Seapower
ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi, MAZIE K. HIRONO, Hawaii
Chairman JEANNE SHAHEEN, New Hampshire
TOM COTTON, Arkansas RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, Connecticut
MIKE ROUNDS, South Dakota TIM KAINE, Virginia
THOM TILLIS, North Carolina ANGUS S. KING, JR., Maine
TIM SCOTT, South Carolina
JON KYL, Arizona
C O N T E N T S
November 27, 2018
Navy Shipbuilding Programs....................................... 1
Geurts, The Honorable James F., Assistant Secretary of the Navy 2
for Research, Development, and Acquisition; Accompanied by Vice
Admiral William R. Merz, USN, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations
for Warfare Systems (OPNAV N9); Lieutenant General David H.
Berger, USMC, Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat
Development Command and Deputy Commander for Combat Development
Questions for the Record......................................... 37
NAVY SHIPBUILDING PROGRAMS
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2018
United States Senate,
Subcommittee on Seapower,
Committee on Armed Services,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:31 p.m. in
Room SR-220, Russell Senate Office Building, Senator Roger F.
Wicker (Chairman of the Subcommittee) presiding.
Subcommittee Members present: Senators Wicker, Rounds,
Shaheen, Blumenthal, Kaine, and King.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR ROGER F. WICKER
Senator Wicker. The hearing will come to order. Ranking
Member Senator Hirono is in a markup and will be joining us as
soon as she can.
By agreement, we are going to skip opening statements of
the chair and Ranking Member until such time as Senator Hirono
arrives. And--but we will welcome our three distinguished
panelists today--Honorable James F. Geurts, Assistant Secretary
of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition; Vice
Admiral William R. Merz, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for
Warfare Systems; and Lieutenant General David H. Berger, Deputy
Commandant of the Marine Corps for Combat Development and
So, gentlemen, I understand you have drawn straws, and one
of you gets to make an opening statement. Is that correct?
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir.
Senator Wicker. All right. Well, we will let you proceed,
and then we will take questions on a 5-minute basis. When my
distinguished Ranking Member arrives, we may interject some
opening statements for the record. You are recognized, Mr.
Secretary Geurts. Thank you, sir.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JAMES F. GEURTS, ASSISTANT SECRETARY
OF THE NAVY FOR RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND ACQUISITION;
ACCOMPANIED BY VICE ADMIRAL WILLIAM R. MERZ, USN, DEPUTY CHIEF
OF NAVAL OPERATIONS FOR WARFARE SYSTEMS (OPNAV N9); LIEUTENANT
GENERAL DAVID H. BERGER, USMC, COMMANDING GENERAL, MARINE CORPS
COMBAT DEVELOPMENT COMMAND AND DEPUTY COMMANDER FOR COMBAT
DEVELOPMENT AND INTEGRATION
Chairman Wicker, Ranking Member Hirono, and distinguished
Members of the Subcommittee, thanks for the opportunity to
appear before you here today to update you on the Department of
the Navy shipbuilding plan. I am joined today with Admiral Bill
Merz, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems, and
Lieutenant General Dave Berger, Deputy Commandant for Combat
Systems Development and Integration.
With your permission, I would like to provide a few brief
remarks for the three of us and then submit our formal
statement for the record.
Senator Wicker. Okay, proceed.
Secretary Geurts. We would like to first thank Congress for
the timely enactment of the Fiscal Year 2019 DOD budget. On-
time enactment of the authorization and appropriation for
fiscal year 2019 without a continuing resolution provides the
predictability and stability in funding that is critical as we
build the Navy the Nation needs in support of the National
Timely passage of this budget has enabled us to accelerate
contract awards, increase our acquisition efficiency, and
deliver for our sailors and Marines. Additionally, your
continuing support of our maritime accelerated acquisition
programs has provided much-needed agility within the budget
cycle. Through day-to-day interactions with the committees, we
are able to quickly pursue near-term capability gaps against
The strategic environment continues to be more dynamic,
increasing in its uncertainty and sophistication. The
proliferation of modern technologies, along with the erosion of
the competitive advantage in areas where we have long enjoyed
relative superiority, contest our ability to influence and
create a great range of challenges for a globally responsive
force. In order to retain and expand our competitive advantage,
it is imperative we continuously adapt to the emerging security
environment and do so with a sense of urgency. This requires
the right balance of readiness, capability, and capacity, as
well as budget stability and predictability. It requires a Navy
of at least 355 ships.
The Navy's 3-year shipbuilding plan for fiscal year 2019
provides the framework to achieve this 355-ship Navy at a
steady, sustainable, and affordable rate. Our current plan puts
the Navy on path to 327 ships by fiscal year 2023 and 355 ships
by 2034. Executing this plan relies on sufficient and stable
funding. It also requires we continue to work to improve our--
and reform our business processes, as well as ensure we
maintain a robust industrial base.
Our shipbuilding industrial base and supporting vendor base
continues to be a unique national security imperative that must
be properly managed and protected. We value our partnership
with Congress, and together, we can ensure that our Navy and
Marine Corp teams operating around the world continue to
provide effective deterrents as instruments of peace or, if
necessary, to deliver superior naval power to protect those who
We thank you for the strong support the Subcommittee has
always provided the Department of the Navy and the opportunity
to appear before you today. We look forward to answering your
[The joint prepared statement of Secretary Geurts, Vice
Admiral Merz, and Lieutenant General Berger follows:]
Joint Statement of The Honorable James F. Geurts, Vice Admiral William
R. Merz, and Lieutenant General David H. Berger
Chairman Wicker, Ranking Member Hirono, and distinguished Members
of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you
today to update you on the Department of Navy's plan to achieve a 355-
ship Navy. First we would like to thank Congress for your support for
timely enactment of the fiscal year (FY) 2019 Department of Defense
(DOD) budget. Enactment of the authorization and appropriation for
fiscal year 2019 helps provide the predictability and stability in
funding that is critical to our success and will support building the
Navy the Nation Needs (NNN), generating lethal and resilient maritime
forces to support the National Defense Strategy (NDS).
The strategic environment continues to be more and more dynamic,
increasing in its uncertainty and sophistication. The proliferation of
modern technologies, conventional weapons, and cyber capabilities to a
broader range of state and non-state entities, along with the erosion
of our competitive advantage in areas where we have long enjoyed
relative superiority, is likely to continue as rival states attempt to
contest our influence and create a range of challenges for a globally
As described in the 2018 National Security Strategy and the 2018
NDS, in order to retain and expand our competitive advantage, it is
imperative that we continuously adapt to the emerging security
environment--and do so with a sense of urgency. This requires the right
balance of readiness, capability, and capacity, as well as budget
stability and predictability. It also requires we continue to work to
improve and reform our business processes, as well as ensure we
maintain a robust industrial base. Together, we can ensure our
military's capability, capacity, and readiness can continue to deliver
superior naval power around the world, both today and tomorrow.
355 ship requirement
The Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for
Fiscal Year 2019 prioritizes the framework for building towards the NNN
objective of 355 ships at a steady, sustainable, and affordable rate.
Fiscal year 2019 procurement and Service Life Extensions (SLE) puts the
Navy on a path to 327 ships by fiscal year 2023 and 355 ships in the
2030s. The types of ships and capabilities procured over this 30-year
timespan will evolve with technology and threat advancements.
Protecting the baseline acquisition profiles provides long-term
foundational stability for thoughtful, agile modernization, and a
clearer forecast of when to evolve to the next ship design. The Navy's
plan includes aircraft carriers, ballistic missile and attack
submarines, large and small surface combatants, amphibious ships, and
auxiliary ships. Surface combatant and attack submarine capabilities
are the most dynamic and will likely evolve substantially to align with
growing operational demands, emergence of new technologies,
introduction of unmanned and autonomous systems, and more capable
sensors and payloads. Accordingly, the Navy will continue to analyze
and update the Surface Capability Evolution Plan, the Tactical
Submarine Evolution Plan, Amphibious Warfare Capabilities Evolution
Plan, and all supporting plans (aviation, ordnance, amphibious, etc.)
for alignment of capabilities and appropriate NNN adjustments. This
analysis is an enduring, responsive process that increasingly values
agile and adaptable lethality against dynamic adversaries. Continual
analysis coupled with a stable build profile will provide the
foundation from which to ensure all future platforms keep pace with the
Although SLEs will continue to be a valuable tool for smoothing
growth ramps, sustaining inventory, and extending the return on
investment of a platform already paid for, they cannot be a substitute
for long-term investment. Other elements identified in the annual ship
construction plan for the Navy to continue to grow the force are
steady, sustainable growth with stable acquisition profiles and
executing aggressive growth opportunities above the steady procurement
profiles if resources are available. Examples of aggressive growth
options to accelerate meeting force structure goals and take advantage
of available industrial base capacity might include additional
Virginia-class submarines above the 10 ship Block V MYP construction
contract (fiscal year 2019 to 2023) and additional DDG 51 Flight III
ships beyond the 10 ship MYP construction contract (fiscal year 2018 to
2022). Equally important, growing to a 355-ship navy requires
commensurate increases to both military and civilian manpower and
operations and maintenance funding to support and sustain the larger
A stable industrial base is a fundamental requirement to achieving
and sustaining the Navy's baseline acquisition profiles. Our
shipbuilding industrial base and supporting vendor base constitute a
unique national security imperative that must be properly managed and
protected. By balancing long-term acquisition profiles with targeted
SLEs and aggressive growth options, the Navy will be able to stabilize
the industrial base and set the foundation for growing the force
towards its warfighting requirement.
Similarly, to increase its competitive advantage over pacing
threats, the Marine Corps will rapidly adapt and modernize in an
affordable way, which depends greatly on predictable funding in support
of Force 2025. Historically, sea control/freedom of navigation has been
a purely Navy mission; however, integrating Marine Air-Ground Task
Force (MAGTF) air and ground fires capabilities will transition this to
a true ``naval'' mission. Establishing sea control against a near peer
competitor is an integrated naval and joint mission that leverages
Marine Corps concepts and capabilities, such as the Expeditionary
Advance Base Operations (EABO), F-35B, and precision artillery (i.e.
precision cannon or HIMARS-like). The Chief of Naval Operations' Design
for Maintaining Maritime Superiority which stresses freedom of maneuver
and power projection ashore, combined with the Marine Corps Operating
Concept (MOC) and Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment (LOCE)
all illustrate the importance of an integrated force in anticipation of
advancing threats. Specifically, LOCE describes how an integrated naval
force, operating from dispersed locations, both ashore and afloat, will
utilize its flexibility, versatility, and mobility to achieve sea
control and power projection into contested littoral areas. EABO is the
tactical/operational execution that provides the MAGTF's distributed,
lethal, involvement in continuous contact layer advance naval task
force operations. These concepts are directly in line with the NDS and
the Defense Planning Guidance (DPG) which highlights the requirement
for increased strategic flexibility and freedom of action. Marines
operate regularly within these three layers today, making the focus on
modernization priorities all the more critical. An essential supporting
element to the USMC missions is the 38 Amphibious Warship fleet
requirement. In accordance with the NDS, the Navy and USMC are looking
at various paths to increase both the lethality and survivability of
the amphibious force.
The DOD accounts for approximately 70 percent of the total domestic
shipbuilding market. With such a large market share of the shipbuilding
industry, the timing of DOD ship procurements is critical to the health
and sustainment of the U.S. shipbuilding industry and has economic
impact industry wide. It is important, therefore, for DOD to provide
stability and predictability to the industrial base in order to keep it
healthy today and robust enough to meet the Nation's future needs.
Over the last 60 years, Navy procurement profiles have shown sharp
peaks in shipbuilding followed by significant breaks or valleys in
production that have severely degraded the ability to plan for the
long-term and respond to changing requirements in the near-term. This
created a boom and bust within the industry, degrading the industrial
base and resulting in longer construction times and increased costs.
The steady, sustainable baseline shipbuilding profiles in the Annual
Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for fiscal year 2019
will establish industrial efficiency and agility and protect workforce
skills in order for the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base to remain
cost effective long-term and meet the demands of the 355-ship Navy the
In a response to an Executive Order, the Navy contributed to the
interagency report Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and
Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United
States. As a result of this analysis, there are multiple efforts
currently underway focused on the shipbuilding industry to identify and
mitigate risks and to ensure a healthy industrial base is available to
support this navy and the next. These risks are monitored and addressed
by the Navy in cooperation with OSD and our industry partners.
the fiscal year 2019 department of defense enacted budget
Fiscal year 2019 authorized and appropriated procurement of 13
ships: two SSN 774 Virginia-class attack submarines; three DDG 51
Arleigh Burke-class destroyers; three Littoral Combat Ships (LCS); one
Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB); one Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF);
two John Lewis-class fleet oilers (T-AO); and one Towing, Salvage and
Rescue ship (T-ATS). The fiscal year 2019 enacted budget also included
advanced procurement funds for two additional ships: one San Antonio-
class LPD 17 Flight II; and one America-class LHA. The fiscal year 2019
enacted budget provides for SLEs on 11 Battle Force ships including six
Cruisers, four Mine Countermeasure ships, and one Improved Los Angeles-
class SSN and 21 vessels in the Ready Reserve Force (RRF) and the
Military Sealift Command surge fleet.
Timely enactment of the fiscal year 2019 DOD budget has enabled the
Department to initiate contracting actions at the start of the fiscal
year, accelerating the timeline for getting critical capabilities to
the Fleet. For example, the Virginia-class SSN program will be building
on past success by awarding a Block V Multiyear Procurement (MYP)
contract for 10 ships in fiscal year 2019, which will include the
Virginia Payload Module and Acoustic Superiority enhancements. The
Arleigh Burke-class destroyers MYP contract awarded in fiscal year 2018
for 10 firm Flight III ships, also includes flexibility to award five
options ships (non-MYP ships) providing the ability to increase build
rates. With funding available to the Department, the Navy is actively
working to award the fiscal year 2019 multiyear ships as well as award
the fiscal year 2019 option.
We continue to pursue accelerated acquisition and business process
reforms as part of our enduring commitment to accelerating delivery of
advanced capabilities to the warfighter. We are utilizing accelerated
acquisition authorities provided by Congress to actively promote
innovation, government/academia partnerships, and the transition of key
manufacturing technologies and processes. These fundamental process
changes, combined with stable resources, and targeted investments will
enable us to more affordably deliver the lethal capabilities most
beneficial to the warfighter.
ford-class aircraft carrier program
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) completed its post-delivery shakedown
period and began Post Shakedown Availability/Selected Restricted
Availability (PSA/SRA) in July 2018. CVN 78 shakedown accomplished six
underway events, highlighted by conducting over 700 catapult launches
and arrestments with Navy jets, including over a hundred launches and
recoveries in one day on two separate occasions. These fixed wing
operations were successfully supported by a number of aviation systems,
while others will require continued refinement as they continue to
support ongoing shipboard testing. CVN 78's yearlong PSA/SRA is
underway, followed by a further shakedown period. Efforts already in
place include capturing CVN 78 lessons learned, refining CVN 79's ship
construction processes, capitalizing on technological improvements,
shipbuilder investments in facilities, invoking better business
strategies, and optimizing Ford-class operational systems. Lessons
learned during CVN 78's Initial Operational Test and Evaluation will be
captured and allow further optimization of Ford-class requirements, and
continue to improve ship's design and construction schedules in order
to reduce future aircraft carrier costs. As of October 2018, John F
Kennedy (CVN 79) is over 50 percent complete with launch planned in
late 2019 and delivery in the fall of 2024.
The Navy is aggressively pursuing cost reduction opportunities to
deliver fully capable Ford-class CVNs at the lowest possible cost. The
Navy is initiating contracting actions necessary to continue
fabrication of Enterprise (CVN 80) in early fiscal year 2019 and
preserve the delivery date while continuing to negotiate the
significant savings associated with the two CVN buy, should the
Department chose to pursue this option. The two-ship buy is a
contracting strategy the Navy effectively used in the 1980s to procure
Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. The strategy achieved significant
acquisition cost savings compared to contracting for the ships
columbia-class submarine program
Ballistic Missile Submarines, coupled with the Trident II D-5
Strategic Weapons system, represent the most survivable leg of the
Nation's strategic arsenal and provide the Nation's most assured
nuclear response capability. The Columbia-class program, the Navy's
number one acquisition priority, is on track to start construction in
October 2020 and deliver to pace the retirement of our current
ballistic missile submarines, deploying for its first patrol in fiscal
year 2031. Cost, schedule, and technical performance are being tightly
managed to ensure this critical strategic capability is delivered on
time and within budget. The design schedule is aggressive but
achievable. Programmatic and enterprise readiness will be paramount to
achieving on time delivery for the class's 12 hulls.
General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) and the Navy continue to take
corrective measures regarding the recent issues of welding quality and
inadequate Ultrasonic (UT) Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) of missile
tubes. Corrective actions are in progress for all delivered and in
process BWX Technologies (BWXT) large diameter tubes, as well as
conducting actions for the two other missile tube vendors (Babcock
Marine [BM] and Northrop Grumman [NG]). U.S and UK leadership approved
a GDEB and NAVSEA plan to accelerate follow-on missile tube procurement
and improve schedule margin to U.S lead ship construction, while
minimizing the impact on UK lead ship construction.
virginia-class submarine program
The Virginia-class program (SSN 774) program continues as one of
the Navy's most successful shipbuilding programs with 17 ships
delivered within budget and increased capability in each block. The
fiscal year 2019 to 2023 Block V MYP delivers on the Department's
commitment to build and sustain a lethal, resilient force while growing
near-term capability and capacity. The MYP allows for the investment
and sustainment of our critical industrial base, helping to ensure
stability and more affordable acquisitions with the options to add
additional ships in the future providing the Navy flexibility to
increase SSN 774 build rates above the 10 MYP ships that was included
in the Navy's Fiscal Year 2019 Budget request. The Block V MYP
incorporates Acoustic Superiority and starting with the second ship in
fiscal year 2019 incorporates the Virginia Payload Module (VPM). The
VPM ships aid in the recovery of strike capability when guided missile
submarines (SSGN) retire in fiscal year 2026 to 2028.
The Navy with the shipbuilders continue to work within the
Integrated Enterprise Plan framework to support Columbia, Virginia, and
Ford-class construction in an integrated approach. This long-term
government and contractor effort guides the execution of these nuclear-
powered platforms affordably, on time, to specifications, in the
necessary quantities, and with acceptable risk.
large surface combatants
The Arleigh Burke-class (DDG 51) program remains another of the
Navy's most successful shipbuilding programs with 66 ships delivered to
the Fleet. The fiscal year 2018 to 2022 DDG 51 MYP delivers on the
Department's commitment to build and sustain a lethal, resilient force
while growing near-term capability and capacity. This MYP also allows
for the investment and sustainment of our critical industrial base,
helping to ensure stability and more affordable acquisitions with the
flexibility to add additional ships in the future. Each shipbuilder's
contract included options for construction of five option ships (non-
MYP ships) in fiscal year 2018/2019/2020/2021/2022, providing the Navy
flexibility to increase DDG 51 build rate above the 10 MYP ships that
was included in the Navy's fiscal year 2018 budget request. All ships
in this MYP will incorporate Integrated Air and Missile Defense and
provide additional Ballistic Missile Defense capacity known as Flight
III, which incorporates the Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR). AMDR
meets the growing ballistic missile threat by improving radar
sensitivity and enabling longer range detection of increasingly complex
threats. The program demonstrated design maturity through its
successful completion of several stages of developmental testing, its
entry into the Production and Deployment phase, and fiscal year 2017
Flight III awards to both shipbuilders.
Complementing the DDG 51, the DDG 1000 Zumwalt-class guided missile
destroyers are an optimally crewed, multi-mission surface combatant
designed to provide long-range, precise, naval surface fire support.
The DDG 1000 ship is in combat system activation at its homeport of San
Diego. DDG 1001 HM&E delivered April 24, 2018, and construction on DDG
1002 is over 79 percent complete. After a comprehensive review of
Zumwalt-class requirements, the Navy decided in November 2017 to
refocus the primary mission of the Zumwalt-class Destroyers to
Offensive Surface Strike. This change in mission adds lethality and
offensive capabilities by providing fires against targets afloat and
small surface combatants
The fiscal year 2019 appropriation funded three LCS in fiscal year
2019. Not to Exceed ship prices were established with the fiscal year
2018 LCS ship awards. Requests for repricing are with the shipbuilders
with awards planned by December 31, 2018. The Navy is on track to award
a single source Guided Missile Frigate [FFG(X)] Detail Design and
Construction contract, via a full and open competition, as planned. To
support this, the Navy awarded five Conceptual Design (CD) contracts on
February 16, 2018, and is now in month nine of the 16-month CD phase.
The contracts allow for ongoing dialogue with Industry using monthly
Technical Exchange Meetings held with each contractor facilitating an
open forum to discuss technical issues, questions, and design progress
with Navy Subject Matter Experts. FFG(X) award will be a full and open
competition. The requirements have been refined and are being finalized
based on industry feedback on the feasibility of meeting the desired
performance levels and accommodating common Navy standard systems
across the radar, combat system, and launcher elements in the various
ship designs in a cost effective manner.
future surface combatants
A significant portion of the surface combatant force will operate
forward, consisting of a mixture of large and small manned surface
combatants (LSC/SSC). To stay ahead of adversary technological
advances, these combatants will be designed to be flexible and
adaptable, supporting affordable upgrades at the pace technology will
allow--throughout their full service life. Manned surface combatants
will team with unmanned systems (UxS)--in all domains--providing for a
variety of on and off-hull support capabilities such as persistent
early, warning, communications, decoys, radars and acoustic radiation
sources, naval surface fire support, and adjunct magazine capacity. All
forces will operate as integrated networks, ranging from an individual
ship with multiple off-board systems, multi-ship and system Surface
Action Groups (SAG) and Strike Groups (SG). An Integrated Combat System
(ICS) will link communications, command and control systems, sensors
and weapons, and facilitate an exchange and analysis of data to provide
warfighters with actionable knowledge to ensure decision superiority.
The capabilities delivered by Future Surface Combatant Force will
span multiple platforms and systems. The earliest ICS Initial
Operational Capability will occur in the mid-2020s as combat systems
transition toward higher levels of integration across the combatant
force. Also, in the mid-2020s, UxVs will deliver with increased levels
of autonomy and capability as their mission systems are increasingly
amphibious ship programs
Amphibious ships operate forward to support allies, rapidly and
decisively respond to crises, deter potential adversaries, and provide
the Nation's best means of projecting sustainable power ashore. They
also provide the preponderance of our naval response in humanitarian
assistance and disaster relief. The operationally available inventory
of amphibious warships and connectors remains below the 38 ship force
structure requirement. The Navy is exploring service life extensions of
existing ships and the acceleration of the LPD Flight II program to
mitigate this shortfall.
LHA 6 America-class ships are flexible, multi-mission platforms
with capabilities that span the range of military operations, from
forward-deployed crisis response to forcible entry operations. Tripoli
(LHA 7) is 93 percent complete and now scheduled to deliver in June
2019 as it continues to work through its shipboard test program. After
a successful production readiness review, LHA 8 began sustained
fabrication on October 18, 2018, and is scheduled to deliver in fiscal
The San Antonio-class (LPD 17) provides the ability to embark,
transport, and land elements of a landing force by helicopters, tilt
rotor aircraft, landing craft, and amphibious vehicles. USS Portland
(LPD 27) commissioned in April 2018 and the USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD
28) is expected to deliver in fiscal year 2021. LPD 28's design and
construction features will leverage many of the ongoing LPD Flight II
design innovations and cost reduction initiatives that are necessary
for the program to achieve affordability goals while maintaining the
high-level capabilities of the LPD 17 class. LPD 29 was awarded in
February and will continue with the LPD 28 design, but add the
Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR) among other improvements. LPD
30 will complete the design transition and meet the requirement. It has
been designated as the first LPD Flight II. Contract actions are in
process for the award of LPD 30 Detail Design and Construction.
auxiliary ship programs
Support vessels such as the ESB, Expeditionary Transfer Dock (ESD),
and the Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) provide additional
flexibility to the combatant commanders. ESBs are flexible platforms
designed and built for Airborne Mine Counter-measure Missions and
capable of hosting multiple mission sets with airborne, surface, and
subsurface assets. ESB 4 delivered in February 2018 and ESB 5 is
currently under construction. Delivery of the EPF 10 is planned for
November and the award of EPF 13 is planned by the end of the calendar
The Combat Logistics Force (CLF) consists of T-AOE fast combat
support ships, T-AKE dry cargo and ammunition ships, and T-AO fleet
replenishment oilers. CLF ships fulfill the vital role of providing
underway replenishment of fuel, food, repair parts, ammunition and
equipment to forward-deployed ships and embarked aircraft, to enable
them to operate for extended periods of time at sea. The Kaiser-class
(T-AO 187) fleet replenishment oilers will be replaced with the John
Lewis-class fleet replenishment oilers, designated T-AO 205 class. The
first T-AO 205 started construction on September 20, 2018.
The Department has begun procurement of a combined towing, salvage,
and rescue (T-ATS) ship to replace the four T-ATF 166 class fleet ocean
tugs, which reach the end of their expected service lives starting in
2021, and the four T-ARS 50-class salvage ships, which reach the end of
their expected service lives starting in 2025. Fabrication is expected
to begin in early summer 2019.
ready reserve forces (rrf)
The Navy, in coordination with the Office of the Secretary of
Defense (OSD), U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), and the
Department of Transportation's (DOT) Maritime Administration (MARAD),
provided the ``Sealift That the Nation Needs'' Report to Congress in
March 2018. This report outlined a three-phased approach to strategic
sealift recapitalization: SLE of select surge sealift vessels, used
vessel acquisition, and a common-hull shipbuilding program.
Across the fiscal year 2017 to fiscal year 2019 budget cycles, the
Navy programmed SLEs for 31 ships. These SLEs will add roughly 10
additional years to select hulls (typically increasing the service life
from 50 to 60 years). The Navy will continue to identify other vessels
suitable for extensions in subsequent budget cycles, subject to the
requirements of the ``Sealift That the Nation Needs.'' SLE is a
temporary mitigation, which must be managed as the fleet's average age
increases and the challenge of maintaining obsolete equipment and
scarce spare parts expands.
Acquiring used vessels is the most cost-effective approach to
replacing the aging fleet and bridging the gap for strategic sealift
capability until a new construction program comes on line. The DOD-DOT
strategy is to place the acquired used vessels into MARAD's Ready
Reserve Force. Considering material condition of the current fleet,
expected service life, and the new build acquisition timeline, the
estimated total number of used vessels required is 26 to maintain the
Sealift That the Nation Needs. Authority granted in the Fiscal Year
2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) permits the purchase of
two used vessels. The Fiscal Year 2019 NDAA increased authority to
purchase up to seven used vessels, contingent on the Secretary of the
Navy certifying the initiation of an acquisition strategy for new
construction of not less than 10 sealift vessels, with the lead ship
delivery in 2026.
The Fiscal Year 2019 NDAA directed that the Navy in consultation
with MARAD and USTRANSCOM prepare a Business Case Analysis (BCA) of
recapitalization options for the RRF. Navy will deliver the BCA in 2019
in order to align the analysis with OSD and USTRANSCOM's Mobility
Capabilities Requirements Study (MCRS). The MCRS is integral to the BCA
as it will set the sealift capability required to meet combatant
commander requirements. The Navy will continue to partner with Congress
as well as interagency, joint, and industry partners to ensure the
success of this important force projection capability.
unmanned undersea vehicles
The Navy is expanding its global reach through the development of
unmanned capabilities to ensure maritime dominance and power
projection. This requires persistent global presence in all maritime
domains, the ability to deny our adversaries safe haven in the world's
oceans, and the capability to generate kinetic and non-kinetic effects
at the time and place of our choosing. The Navy executes multiple
missions in and from the Undersea and Surface Domains including
Strategic Deterrence; Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance
(ISR); ASW; Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW); Strike; Naval Special Warfare;
and Mine Warfare. The Navy is using a Family-of-Systems strategy to
develop and employ unmanned vehicles to conduct a spectrum of missions
that complement and relieve stress on the manned force. The Family of
Systems approach leverages commercial and modified commercial vehicles,
and is developing large and extra-large vehicles as necessary.
Snakehead and Orca are the large and extra-large undersea vehicles
that will be used for unmanned undersea family development and tactical
operations. Additionally, medium and large unmanned surface vehicles
will be used for unmanned surface family development, logistics and
The ascendant threats posed by revisionist powers and rogue states
require change--we must become more lethal, resilient and as a
consequence, a more capable deterrent. The Navy and Marine Corps are
actively integrating capabilities, synchronizing efforts, and moving
forward as a unified force while preparing to meet challenges across
the range of military operations. Naval integration bonds Navy and
Marine Corps warfighting doctrine, concept development, task
organization, material acquisition programs, logistics, training and
command and control. Naval integration maximizes the warfighting
capabilities of the Navy surface, subsurface, aviation, cyber, and
special warfare communities with the MAGTF to create a credible multi-
functional Naval capability that can influence, deter, and compete in
all domains. At the Service-level, this implies achieving a greater
degree of interdependence in organizing, training, and equipping of the
force through the MOC. At the operational level, this implies a reform
to theater maritime command and control (C2) architectures and
sustainment; and, at the tactical level, this implies the rapid
integration/interoperability of amphibious forces functional capability
into larger Navy formations.
The Department of the Navy continues to increase capacity,
lethality, and availability with the shipbuilding, aviation, and
expeditionary programs. New capabilities are continually being
delivered to the fleet and retrofitted on existing platforms to provide
enhanced lethality and survivability to the warfighter. In addition,
the Department is aggressively pursuing efforts to accelerate
acquisition timelines and schedules and further drive affordability
into our programs, in order to deliver capability to our warfighters
faster and be as effective as possible within our resources. Continued
congressional support of the Department's plans and budgets will help
sustain a viable industrial base, as will timely enactment of
appropriations, avoiding costly Continuing Resolutions.
By balancing new construction opportunities with calculated SLEs,
the Department of the Navy is on the path to a 355-ship fleet. While
the Navy continues to utilize multiyear procurements and block buy
strategies to stabilize the industrial base and attain ships more
affordably, achieving a 355-ship fleet will be a challenge. It's not
just the number of ships that is important; it's the capability and the
ability of our ships to be on station when and where needed. It is also
the long-term operation and sustainment of this larger fleet that will
require increased and predictable budgets well into the future.
Procurement priorities must be balanced with what is needed to maintain
our readiness including maintenance and planned modernizations to
ensure our ships meet their expected service lives coupled with SLEs
where appropriate. Through targeted SLEs, we will be able to retain
highly-capable ships past their originally designed service life until
the Navy can replace them with new construction ships.
This lays the ground work for growing warfighting capabilities in
the Fiscal Year 2020 President's Budget, as the Department also makes
initial investments in a larger Navy and Marine Corps. With the support
of Congress, we can deliver the larger, more ready, and more capable
force that our warfighters need. Our sailors and marines greatly
appreciate your support and commitment.
Senator Wicker. Well, thank you very much. I will just
direct questions to the panel, and the one who feels best
suited to answer, step forward.
Encouraging news on the requirement, the statutory
requirement according to the SHIPS Act, which is the unanimous
position of this Subcommittee and also the law of the land
signed by the President of the United States. So, 327 by the
year 2023, 355 another 11 years after that. How will the--how
optimal will that mix be, Mr. Secretary, at those two stages?
Secretary Geurts. Sir, I think, you know, as we talked
about in the springtime, we were ready to accelerate the plan
to 2034 by extending the life of a number of our destroyers.
That is not the optimal mix, per se. I will turn it over to
Admiral Merz in terms of where he sees a little bit of an
imbalance. But it is certainly a workable mix that would allow
us to execute the National Defense Strategy.
Bill, if you want to jump in?
Vice Admiral Merz. Yes, sir.
First of all, Senator, I would like to echo Secretary
Geurts' appreciation on the enactment of the 2019 bill. It just
makes every process significantly more efficient.
Senator Wicker. It was a bipartisan achievement, and I am I
proud to have been part of this team.
Vice Admiral Merz. Yes, sir. Thank you very much.
Regarding the mix, you know, we have been long-time
defenders of the proper mix to 355. The 355 is a derived
number. We determine what type of ships we need in what
numbers, add them all up, and we get the 355 or higher,
depending on what study you rally around. When we extended the
life of the DDG 51 to 45 years, it immediately shifted the
shipbuilding plan left about 20 years as far as total numbers,
but in the incorrect mix.
However, if you are going to have an incorrect mix, it is
nice to have too many destroyers while we were balancing out
the remainder of the fleet. So we have determined that that
imbalance is less of a risk, more of an imbalance in the
Senator Wicker. Good point. Good point.
Vice Admiral Merz. But we still need to fill in the rest of
the fleet, and holding the fort down with more DDGs is a sound
Senator Wicker. Well, let me ask you about some assumptions
that might change the plan and get us there faster.
Specifically, what would happen if the Navy changed some or all
of the following assumptions? Executed additional service life
extensions. Maintained overall shipbuilding funding levels at
the fiscal year 2035 level after we get finished with the
Columbia-class procurement. That would be sweet, would it not?
Receive supplemental funding for the Columbia program outside
the normal account in fiscal year 2021 through 2035. Or--and/or
use the available shipyard capacity identified in the 30-year
Secretary Geurts. Sir, I think all those would be
instruments of change to move that to the left. When we built
the shipbuilding plan, we built a framework of what a steady,
sustainable rate would be and then where we had opportunities
to accelerate should funding become available, whether that is
in destroyers or in submarines, or in some of the other
So those opportunities exist. Depending on the levels of
those assumptions you spoke of there, there is certainly
opportunity to move that plan to the left.
Senator Wicker. Okay, so----
Secretary Geurts. I think it is important, though, sir, and
I think that both my colleagues would share that we are
balanced in doing that. As we look forward to our plan, we got
to make sure we include a balanced force that we can sustain
and keep ready, and that is part of the calculus as we move
forward as well.
Senator Wicker. Okay. You know, according to statute, we
are supposed to revert back to the BCA caps. I view that as
unthinkable, and it would be irresponsible on the part of this
Congress. But what would happen if we did that, or how might a
flat or declining defense budget affect the shipbuilding
account? What would that do to our national defense readiness?
Secretary Geurts. Sir, I think, our job for the
Senator Wicker. You have 12 seconds, sir.
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir. Our job for the Department of
the Navy is create the best balanced force mix we can, given
the funding available. So I will not hypothesize what that
might look like in those different budget scenarios other than
to say, you know, we would try and balance with the funding
available. Obviously, at the BCA level, that significant a cut
would be difficult to imagine us executing the current plan
under BCA caps.
Senator Wicker. Difficult to imagine, yes.
Vice Admiral Merz. Sir, if I can just add on to that,
actually two pieces, your previous question about service life
extensions, we do that--we review every ship for service life
extensions and extend what we can. But those last two points
you made, I think, are absolutely fundamental to sustaining the
shipbuilding plan. That is a steady funding profile and the
figuring out an alternate solution to funding Columbia, which
we have already identified in the shipbuilding plan, and that
is work to be done. Not quite a panic yet, but it is on the
horizon, and we are going to have to deal with that.
As far as the BCA, there would be immediate impact as soon
as that went in. Depending on how it last, I think we can go
from immediate to devastating impact on the program.
Senator Wicker. Thank you very much.
Senator Shaheen. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Secretary Geurts, I am glad that Admiral Merz was more
direct about his response to that question. I would say to you
all that this is an imminent possibility, and unless Congress
is very clear about what the impact is going to be, I think it
makes it harder to make a decision. So I hope that you will not
be as diplomatic as you were in your response to that question,
and you will be very direct and say, ``This is what the impact
is going to be.'' Because I think people--I think we need to
hear that in order to make the best decision possible.
Secretary Geurts. Absolutely. Will do, ma'am.
Senator Shaheen. Secretary Geurts, as we all know, the goal
of the 355-ship Navy came as the result of the QDR in 2014. Now
all of us here on the Subcommittee were in Halifax a couple of
weeks ago for the Halifax Security Forum, and we heard Admiral
Davidson, who is the commander of United States Indo-Pacific
Command, say that we need a bigger Navy. He said that the
Chinese fleet continues to grow, and I quote, ``The capacity
concern is going to become greater in years to come.''
So, given that the 355-ship Navy was the result of a study
in 2014, are we still comfortable that that number of ships is
adequate to address the growing threat from China and Russia,
for that matter, the great power competition that we are now
Vice Admiral Merz. Yes, ma'am. I will take that one.
So the 2016 FSA, it was a composite of the ``O'' plans, the
threat, the threat vectors, and then what are the phases of
warfare we have to deal with across those threat vectors. No
matter what study you looked at, they all said we need to be
bigger, and we have endeavored on a path to get bigger.
Three hundred fifty-five, I think, is a minimum. We are--we
have started the process on the next force-structure
assessment. It is typically about a year-long process when we
get the new combatant commanders in place. The adjustment to
the old plans and how that affects the component command, in
our case the Navy component commands, and then we put together
the force structure assessment. Then we have typically a
commission of external assessors to look at that, and then we
red-team it, and then we put it out.
A single force structure assessment typically will
influence two or three budget cycles, which is actually a pace
that is very aligned with how quickly we can even adjust the
shipbuilding plan and the force structure. So it typically
works out well for us.
We have seen nothing from the combatant commanders to date
or Secretary Mattis' National Defense Strategy that would give
us any indication that we were going to be coming off that 355
ship in composition or in total numbers.
Senator Shaheen. Thank you.
Secretary Geurts, you testified before the Subcommittee in
April about the Navy's initiatives to work with small business.
I come from a State where small business is the foundation of
our economy. We heard recently from Air Force Secretary Wilson
about the Air Force's Blue Shift Initiative to try and engage
small businesses in the needs of the Air Force in the future.
Is there anything similar that the Navy is doing for small
Secretary Geurts. Yes, ma'am, absolutely.
In coming off of 2018, it was the largest year on record
for the Navy in terms of small business awards. We are a couple
percent above our goals, with over $15 billion going directly
to small businesses. So they are key to our future, absolutely.
So, yes, I am coordinating directly with Dr. Roper and
taking advantage of any opportunity there. The Navy still is
kind of top performer of all the services on SBIR Phase III
opportunities, where we turn those initial small business
awards into larger awards. This last year we have awarded
several major ship construction projects directly to small
businesses on the coast. So sometimes, I think it gets thought
of only from a technology standpoint, and we are having small
business--they are constructing ships for us and doing an
outstanding job. They will be a key to our future.
Secretary Shaheen. That is great. I appreciate hearing
that. Can you tell us how we can ensure that small businesses
in our States are aware of what is going on and how to be
engaged in those proposals when they come out?
Secretary Geurts. Absolutely. I have assigned a deputy
program manager for all of our programs as a small business
advocate. And so, one thing to recommend to them is for any of
the programs that they are interested in, contact the program
manager. That way they have got somebody inside the program
that is their advocate, as well as any of our small business
offices we have all around the Navy.
Secretary Shaheen. Great. We will follow up. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Wicker. Let me just follow up, Admiral Merz, on
Senator Shaheen's first line of questioning. The--and I would
call to everyone's attention Secretary Geurts' opening
statement. The emerging threats have not diminished in the last
2 years, have they, Admiral? If anything, they have gotten
Vice Admiral Merz. Exactly right, sir.
Senator Wicker. The challenges--I think his statement was
that they are more dynamic, and you certainly agree with that.
So, if anything, there would be a higher requirement.
Now, this 355 you mentioned, and I appreciate you saying
this, this is the minimum that we need. A 355-ship fleet is not
some best-case ideal that we would like to achieve if
everything goes well. Am I correct there?
Vice Admiral Merz. Yes, sir.
Senator Wicker. So, what--actually, the admirals and
generals came back to us with 655, did not they?
Vice Admiral Merz. Yes, sir. That was one of the numbers
that was evaluated.
Senator Wicker. It was, of course, resource challenged, and
we have to make all the numbers come out. We do not have
unlimited funds. But the 355 is the minimum under a scenario
where things were dangerous, but actually less dangerous than
they are right now. Am I correct?
Vice Admiral Merz. Yes, sir, absolutely correct.
When we constructed the shipbuilding plan, first and
foremost, we set a steady build rate that would continue to
grow the Navy over time at an affordable rate and to protect
the industrial base. We put tremendous effort in identifying
the extra capacity in the shipyards that we could increase the
pace to 355. That was independent of the service life
extensions that we did with not just the DDG 51s, but we are
also looking at up to 7 Los Angeles-class submarines that we
are going to endeavor to do service life extensions on.
The fact is, it is going to take us decades to get there,
and the higher the pace, the steeper the ramp, the better. We
are also endeavoring to design ships that can take much better
advantage of things we can control on a shorter timeline, like
the capabilities we put on these ships. The way we have been
explaining it is, you know, the CONOPS, the tactics on how the
commander employs the ships, that can change in hours, days,
weeks; the capabilities, months and years to develop; ships,
years and decades to put together.
So we are endeavoring to design these ships to take on
these capabilities under a much shorter timeline to affect
these CONOPS. It is all tied together. Three hundred fifty-five
is the minimum to get there. The sooner we get there, the
Senator Wicker. I would just echo also, Secretary Geurts,
what Senator Shaheen said. We do not want you to be alarmist.
We do not want you to exaggerate and wave your arms. You are
relaxed about your job, and you are going to do what you can
with what we give you. But do tell us the facts, and let us be
honest with the American people about how far behind we have
So thank you very much and----
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir. I just--one other piece on the
Budget Control Act. Obviously, the number is devastating in
itself. The other piece that is particular challenging for
shipbuilding is that every ship are line-item appropriated, and
those cuts come down as an equal share to every appropriation.
And so, not only is the number itself, you know, a drastic
reduction which will cause great disruption, how that number
will get laid across the budget, should we get in that
condition, will be devastating to the way we have funded and
constructed our shipbuilding program. So there is a little bit
of a double whammy in there that will cause a complete
disruption of our program should that path come to us.
Senator Wicker. I think Members of the Committee, we are
actually working on the 2020 budget even as speak. So the
future is imminent.
Senator Rounds. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to follow up on what the chairman was
suggesting here. Admiral Merz, in September, the commander of
the United States naval forces in Europe said, and I quote, ``I
think Russian submarines today are perhaps some of the most
silent and lethal in the world.'' And that the caliber of
missiles that Russia has deployed from coastal defense systems,
aircraft, and submarines have--and once again, I quote--``Shown
the ability to reach pretty much all the capitals in Europe
from any of the bodies of water that surround Europe.''
How is this type of Russian activity factoring into Navy
budgeting and posture decisions?
Vice Admiral Merz. Yes, sir. So the specific capabilities
of Russia, we keep a very close eye on it, and Admiral Foggo,
being a submariner, is uniquely attuned to the undersea
capabilities. Matter of fact, he spends much of his life
underwater working on this problem.
Unfortunately, I cannot really speak in this forum the
specific capabilities we are concerned about and what we are
doing about them. But I am happy to come and brief you in a
separate forum on how that goes. But we do----
Senator Rounds. That is fine. But I think what is important
here is, is that there is a need for additional resources and
that our peer adversaries are not sitting still. They are
developing their systems. They are continuing to move with new
What this open session is an opportunity to do is to
highlight our need to continue to move forward with those new
technologies. It is really difficult to be able to share with
the American public unless you are prepared to lay out in some
pretty clear terms just how serious the threats are from our
I am going to ask on Russian side, and then we are going to
go into China. But on the Russian side, can you visit a little
bit about how serious this is, or is this just day-to-day
Vice Admiral Merz. So the capabilities that Russia brings
is very serious. They are tremendous engineers. We have been
sparring with them for quite a long time as they are our old
Cold War adversaries. The technologies they develop are often
leading in whatever field they desire to----
Senator Rounds. So I am going to lead you down the road a
little bit. So the 1990s technology that we have today, are
they capable of handling the technologies that are being
deployed today by the Soviet Union with regard to submarine
Vice Admiral Merz. So, are we capable of handling the 1990s
technology that Russia has fielded?
Senator Rounds. Or the ones that they are fielding today,
with our 1990s technologies?
Vice Admiral Merz. Sir, I really cannot get into how we are
going to deal with the Russian capabilities from a United
States capability standpoint. We will have to take that to a
Senator Rounds. Okay. How about on China? I am going to ask
this of both Secretary Gertz and you, Admiral Merz.
The former Indo-Pacific Command commander has testified
that only half his requirement for attack submarines in the
Pacific theater was being met. This challenge will only grow
worse in 2020s as attack submarines retire at a faster rate
than they are planned to be built. How is the Navy planning to
mitigate the attack submarine shortfall in the 2020s, and what
are you doing right now to make sure that you do not have
additional attack submarines sitting at dry dock, such as what
we had with the Boise and several others as well?
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir. Again, I think if you ask
Admiral Merz and I, you know, that is probably the most looming
shortfall ahead of us in terms of capability is in attack subs.
And so, I think we are attacking that in several different
courses of action.
One is ramping up the Virginia production to two,
potentially more than two down the road, submarines per year
and getting those submarines--new submarines out into the
fleet. The second area is where can we do some service life
extensions. Some of our existing submarines, using the seven
cores we have available to extend the life of some of our
existing submarines and push--mitigate some of the bathtub that
is coming up. And then the third piece is attacking
availability, and so that we have very submarine as available
and in the fight as we can.
Senator Rounds. How many submarines do you have in dry dock
right now waiting to get in? How many of them are tied up at
dock waiting to get into dry dock today?
Secretary Geurts. Sir, I will have to get you the exact
number on that. What I would say is where we are looking is
both how do we improve performance in the public shipyards? So
that is part of our shipyard optimization plan. And then how do
we move, work, and leverage the private capability so that we
do not have ships waiting to get into the public yards?
Currently, we have four ships in the private submarine
yards doing their availability repairs. We are going to
contract for an additional two coming out. And so, the NAVSEA
commander and I are looking very closely at the future
throughput we need both in the public yards and in the private
yards to balance that out, so we do not get back into the state
where we have submarines waiting for years to get into the
Senator Rounds. Just, Mr. Chairman, I just think the point
being that it is pretty tough to ask the private boatyards to
be able to be ready to go, not knowing whether or not we are
going to have the resources available to fund those systems on
a timely basis. That is part of the reason for the discussion
today is not only looking at the technology necessary, but just
to maintain the existing fleet on our way to a 355, we have got
to have consistent funding in the mix that you can count on in
order to make those long-term contractual obligations with the
folks who actually do the repair work.
Secretary Geurts. Absolutely, sir. The steady and
predictable funding is the key. We have got to convert that
into deliberate plans with enough lead time so that those
private yards are ready and equipped to take that input as we
When I look at the future, I think there is always going to
be a future of both public and private submarine maintenance
that makes sense from having a balanced skill set that gives us
flexible options depending on the repairs we need to do and
attacks this throughput so that we maximize the availability of
every asset we have.
Senator Rounds. I will ask for the record the numbers that
you got right now that are waiting to get into dry dock that
you can get back to me on.
Secretary Geurts. Absolutely, sir.
Senator Rounds. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Vice Admiral Merz. Senator, I would like to follow up just
one comment on your larger question of the total number of
submarines and what are we doing to get there? I think this is
just a tremendous case study and a lesson for everybody that if
you walk away from your industrial base, there is no graceful
recovery. There is nothing we can do to minimize the trough
other than selectively picking years that we can potentially
build a third submarine per year. And even that will not fill
in that trough.
We are going to extend submarines the best we can, but we
are not going to reach 66 submarines until the very end of this
shipbuilding plan. And it is simply a result of delivering--and
the number is close, I think it is two submarines in the 1990s.
That is an industrial base that is just not sustainable. This
is the long-term impact.
Senator Rounds. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Wicker. Senator Kaine?
Senator Kaine. Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thanks to the
witnesses for being here today and for your service.
I have questions about four kind of discrete issues that I
will just address, and whoever can deal with them, please do.
First, Secretary Geurts, your opening statement--written
statement talked about the possibility of the two CVN buy, and
the quote was, ``Navy is continuing to negotiate the
significant savings associated with the two CVN buy, should the
Department choose to pursue the option.''
The NDAA that we passed requires The Secretary of Defense
to certify to the defense committees not later than 30 days
before entering into a contract if you decide to go the two-buy
route. Can you give me a status report on those discussions?
Are we likely to have some certification of that kind soon, or
just give me the status?
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir. Since we spoke last, we have
been working closely with the shipyard and negotiating what
savings would look like should we go into a two-carrier
condition. We think those savings will be better than the $2.5
billion number that quoted I think the last time we spoke.
We are in, as you know, the 2020 budget process right now.
So we have not made a final decision on whether to pursue that
or not. I would expect that decision sometime by the end of
this calendar year. Obviously, then we would have--should we go
down that path, the SecDef would certify that and submit that
to Congress, per the NDAA.
Senator Kaine. Great.
Senator Wicker. What is your drop-dead date on having to
make that decision?
Secretary Geurts. Sir, I am not sure there is a drop-dead
date, per se. We are aiming to have that decision by the end of
the calendar year. If that decision were to move out much
longer than the calendar year, the savings achievable will
start to erode, given that we currently have CVN 80 on
Senator Kaine. A second issue that deals with the submarine
supply base, Admiral, you were talking about. There was $450
million in the fiscal year 2018 and 2019 NDAAs and approps for
submarine supplier base expansion. We have heard from some
suppliers that the Navy has yet to release any of those funds.
I do not know whether that is true or not, but that is what we
have heard. Is that the case, and if so, can you tell us what
you are likely to do to release those funds and start to do
Vice Admiral Merz. I am going to pass that to Secretary
Secretary Geurts. Sir, let me take that one for the record.
I believe we have obligated all the fiscal year 2018 funding in
there. But let me take that for the record and get you a full
accounting of that action obligations to date, and then for the
things we have not obligated, both the timing and where we plan
to obligate those.
Senator Kaine. Actually, we will submit that for the
record. There have been challenges with the advanced weapons
elevators on the CVN. Some of the technical difficulties seem
similar to those that were experienced earlier on both the
launch and arresting systems. I think that the Navy put
together independent review teams to tackle those issues and
Are we at a point where that may be needed on the weapons
elevators, or are we in a position where we think the progress
on the weapons elevators is satisfactory?
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir. So there are 11 weapons
elevators. Each one of them we have to produce, test, and then
certify. The first two of those have been produced. The first
one has been through test and certification. The second one is
about 94 percent through test. We are making progress to get
through all the elevators during this availability.
I am likely to do an independent review team, not on the
immediate construction for CVN 78, but looking at the longer-
term sustainability, resilience, reliability, to make sure we
are in a position to support those elevators for the long term,
that we have got all the training, all the reliability built
into those. We have done some mini independent reviews for the
78 elevator design as they are. So we will not do one on the
current efforts on 78. We have got a dedicated team working our
way through those issues.
Senator Kaine. And is your timing on that testing and
certification on 78, you have this 12-month period where you
are testing, do you think you will get through the testing and
certification of all the 11 elevators in a yearlong period?
Secretary Geurts. My current assessment is we will get
through all the production and much of the testing. We may have
some of the certification issues to go. I am watching that very
closely, and we will keep you and your staff informed on
Senator Kaine. Excellent. This last one is very--it is kind
of a minor and technical thing, and yet it may portend a larger
problem. We have got a company in Virginia called Collins
Machine Works. They are in Portsmouth, and they have raised an
issue that I think this kind of an interesting one, and the
Committee has become aware of this.
There is an issue affecting production of propeller shafts
for the Virginia-class sub. This is a contractor that has used
a commercial off-the-shelf product for which there was no
military specification in terms of welding flux. The
subcontractor then changed the mixture of the welding flux. It
turns out now that it now does not really meet the
requirements, and I think Collins has let the Navy know about
I am assuming we sort of promote use of off-the-shelf
technologies when we can, and yet in this instance, there was
not a mil-spec for the off-the-shelf technology. And so there
was a change of it by the supplier that ended up affecting the
production of the propeller shafts for the CVN. Is that just
kind of a normal kind of thing that you work through as it
comes up, or does it portend something larger about use of off-
the-shelf commercial products?
Secretary Geurts. I am not sure it portends to a specific
issue with commercial off-the-shelf products. I think what it
does show us is how fragile our supplier base is and how, if
you have an issue with one supplier, it can cause larger
So, you know, one of the things that was in the industrial
base report we did as part of the executive order, some of the
work we are doing with the funding that this Committee has
provided is really looking at the fragility of that supplier
base, how do we bolster that up, where do we have single-source
suppliers that we can bring on--you know, bring additional
sources on to give us flexibility? One, so we are not caught
with only one supplier in certain conditions; two, so we can
grow at the production rate we need to grow at.
Senator Kaine. I think that the point, Mr. Chair, just
about the fragility of the supply base. If you have a supplier
and they just change the mixture on the welding flux, and then
that leads to the inadequate delivery of propellers for the
subs, which then means the subs cannot do what they are
supposed to do, I mean, it is pretty fragile when the changing
of the mixture on welding flux ends up potentially blocking
your ability to get propellers.
Secretary Geurts. Absolutely.
Senator Kaine. So I think using those--the funds that I
asked about earlier to expand the submarine supply base is
important to make sure that we are not leaning too heavily on
something that is as fragile as you point out.
Secretary Geurts. Absolutely, sir.
Senator Wicker. The $450 million that you asked about
Senator Kaine. Yes. Yes, I think that that can be used to
address some of these challenges, I think.
Senator Wicker. And you agree with that?
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir. We certainly agree. I mean, we
have done a lot of work looking at common suppliers across our
nuclear aircraft carriers and submarine programs and, actually,
the support of the Committee here, both making sure that they
are--the suppliers are ready to go and that we can take
advantage of doing common buys across those programs so that
supplier sees a more steady stream of planned and predictable
It is challenging enough at the prime level when programs
start and stop and move around. It gets really challenging in
the second- and third- and fourth-level suppliers to be able to
deal with changing profiles and changing requirements. So the
efforts the Committee has done here to help us in that regard
will pay off big as we continue along on these important
Senator Kaine. Thank you so much. Thanks, Mr. Chair.
Senator Wicker. Mr. Secretary, you answered Senator Kaine's
question about the troubling issue of the advanced weapons
elevators. Let us get your thoughts on three others that are
significant risks in the Ford-class. The electromagnetic
aircraft launching system, the advanced arresting gear, and the
duel band radar--how are we coming on those?
Secretary Geurts. Sir, I would say of all of the
technologies on the CVN 78, of which there were many we have
proved out on this lead ship, the weapons elevator is the one
that is last one for us to get tied up and work our way
through. I think we have got a path there.
On both the EMALs program, both the launcher and the
arresting gear, we have had over, I think, 747 both catapults
and traps on the CVN 78 during its 81 days----
Senator Kaine. I hope the numbers were equal of the
launches and the----
Secretary Geurts. Yes, they were. They were, sir.
Senator Kaine. Relatively, you know----
Secretary Geurts. Relatively, 24,000 cycle events of that
equipment on our shore-based test site there. So we are feeling
pretty confident on both of those systems, both on catapults
and the arresting gear there. Duel band radar, again, making
good progress there. I do not see any major technical issues
with that system as well.
And then, as we look toward CVN 79, we are seeing fairly
drastic reductions in labor hours. HI has proven that once we
get this design nailed down, their ability to be efficient in
producing those, we are seeing 16 percent less production labor
hours on the second carrier in that class than the first one.
And so, as we get that design locked down, the efficiencies
that we expected to see are bearing out in the production
Senator Wicker. Are we going to be glad we went with the
EMALs and advanced arresting gear?
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir. The challenge with the legacy
systems, one, are, you know, parts and being able to produce
those, but for the carriers of the future to be able to launch
everything from fairly heavy fighter craft and some of the
others to very light systems like the MQ-25, you need these
systems to have the range of capability you need to launch that
different kind of air wing of the future. And so, while, yes,
there certainly have been technical challenges we have had to
work through, it really opens up our ability to operate a wider
variety of aircraft from the deck, both manned and unmanned,
which I think is going to be critical to those carrier
effective operations as we look to the future.
Senator Wicker. Thank you.
Let us talk about frigates. We are supposed to do a
competitive award in 2020. Please update the Subcommittee on
the Navy's acquisition strategy for the new frigate. Is the
intent still to award the contract based on full and open
Secretary Geurts. Sir, absolutely. We are marching right
along the schedule that we briefed earlier. And recently, the
CNO and I both validated the frigate requirements. So we have
got those requirements now locked down. That was per the
schedule we have. We are drafting the RFP, which we will--
request for proposal, which we will get out to industry here
this spring. That will give us time to get additional feedback
from them. We have been interacting them throughout this whole
design process as we have looked at all the requirements to
make sure the requirements were affordable.
That draft RFP will then lead to an RFP we plan to release
at the end of this fiscal year, which will give us a full year
then to award that competitive contract, a full and open
competition for the frigate program. So that program remains on
track, and I am confident we will execute that to plan.
Senator Wicker. Now, on the LCS, the Congressional Research
Service noted that the Navy did not perform a formal rigorous
analysis to determine the right approach to addressing the set
of capability gaps and mission needs with regard to the LCS.
How are we going to keep from repeating this experience with
the new frigate, and do you challenge to CRS in their
Secretary Geurts. Go ahead, Bill.
Vice Admiral Merz. Sir, I will take that one. So, regarding
the CRS Report on the LCS, no, we do not challenge it. We took
some lumps on the LCS. We learned a lot. I am personally a fan
of that ship and that ship class. I think it has tremendous
utility, and we will come through all of that.
I will tell you a lot of lessons learned we rolled into the
frigate process. The frigate process is a new process for us.
We brought industry in early to discuss how these requirements
may play out, using their expertise to really discover the art
of possible before we set the requirements.
It created some anxiety up front, a lot of give-and-take. I
think in the end, industry is happy. We are getting, at least
all the vectors are, a much more lethal ship for the price
point, and simply because instead of just levying requirements
on industry, we are working with them as partners ahead of the
requirements process. So I think all of that is a much
healthier approach to avoid some of the pitfalls we had with
some of the earlier classes.
Senator Wicker. Can you describe the Navy's vision for the
future surface combatant force, Admiral? To what extent does
extending the service life of the Arleigh Burke-class
destroyers affect the timeline for procuring the next large
Vice Admiral Merz. Yes, sir. I touched on that a little bit
earlier when I was talking about the spectrum of things we can
influence over time. And the piece about the large surface
combatant, about making it as an adaptable platform as we can
to take advantage of these much more quickly churning
capabilities that we are going to have to field. And really,
adapt it in the timeframe of one maintenance cycle. Not a dry
dock, not an overhaul, but we can do these pier side, we can
outfit these ships and move them out.
The Arleigh Burke is a fantastic ship. Matter of fact, the
Flight III that we are delivering soon is going to be pretty
much the most capable warship on the seas. The problem with the
Arleigh Burke is she is full. We really do not have much room
to expand or modernize her much beyond her current platform.
Matter of fact, she is capable to the point now that the
next large surface combatant is probably going to pick up right
where we left off with the Arleigh Burke. So there is this very
nice evolution between the two ships. When we are testing out
the technology on the Arleigh Burke, the adaptability concept
of the next generation of large surface combatant, I think we
are going to be in a much better position to be a lot more
agile, both on industry side and on the warfighting side with
Senator Wicker. What would be the timeframe, generally
speaking, of this next generation?
Vice Admiral Merz. It is a two-phased approach. The first
one, early 2020s--2023, 2024--and then a follow-on version in
the late 2020s, really depending on how this first phase goes.
Senator Wicker. Senator Shaheen?
Senator Shaheen. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Earlier today, the Full Armed Services Committee heard from
the National Defense Strategy Commission on their report about
the NDS. And one of the comments that Admiral Roughead made was
that it had taken 15 months to get the John McCain back into
operation, and it was in the context of suggesting that we
cannot afford to have that kind of an asset down for that long
a period of time.
If we look at history, at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
during the 5-year span of World War II, they produced over 70
submarines. Four of them were launched on one day in 1944. So I
appreciate that we are in a totally different time, and
technology is different, but what are we going to do about that
concern that we cannot have that major an asset down for that
period of time and expect to be competitive?
Secretary Geurts. Yes, ma'am. I think--I agree with the
concern that we have got to be able to not only have the assets
to start the fight or withstand the first day of the fight, but
withstand the sustained fight. Part of what we are looking at
as we relook at both our public shipyards and how we do private
repairs is to get more stability into those yards and get them
all to the point where they are capitalized to be able to
operate at the pace we need them to operate with.
Without even a wartime scenario, just looking at the amount
of ship repair work we are going to have to do, I mean, that is
going to continue to accelerate at the same pace as we are in
the shipbuilding. So one of the things we are going to do this
year is a 30-year ship repair sustainment plan so we can really
look at where do we have any limitations in the system, whether
that is capabilities like dry docks. Are we maximizing use of
all the capacity we have? And then are there things we could do
better on the acquisition strategy side that would enable some
more stability in those both public and private yards so they
could stabilize their workforce?
Our biggest challenge--you know, facilities is a challenge.
Our largest challenge is in the workforce----
Senator Shaheen. Right.
Secretary Geurts.--end of business. And if we cannot get
stability, both in new construction and in repair, then we will
really struggle to attract the workforce and retain the
workforce we need.
Senator Kaine had a great session down in the Norfolk area
just on workforce, and if you look at the numbers that we have
to hire, it is a pretty staggering number. Now, if we can get
to a sustainable infrastructure, both on the public side and on
the private side, that can handle that load, that gives a lot
more flexibility to handle unplanned work and work that in.
Senator Wicker. Will that----
Secretary Geurts. Right now, we are right along the edge. I
am sorry, sir.
Senator Wicker. Tell us about that number. Since we are
talking about that, what information did Senator Kaine elicit
there about the staggering number----
Secretary Geurts. So Senator Kaine had a great session just
between public yards and the private yards and the local
community. I would say it is the same in all of our
shipbuilding towns of how do we work together to attract,
train, and retain the workforce? Whether it is in the public
yards or in the private yards, whether it is new build or
repair, we have got to look at that in aggregate.
Our biggest challenge in terms of achieving velocity is in
workforce. I think over 50 percent right now, 56 percent in the
public yards in terms of workforce have less than 5 years'
experience. So not only do we have to attract those workers and
get them in the system, then we have got to figure out how to
more effectively train them.
I would say Portsmouth is leading----
Senator Shaheen. Right. The challenge is there.
Secretary Geurts.--leading the fleet in terms of some
really progressive ways to rapidly train. The challenge is,
circling all the way back to BCA, drastic cuts where we have to
turn that whole pipeline off. And to Admiral Merz's point, you
do not just a year later turn that back on. That is a decade--
you are going to create a decade problem that will cause
another decade to turn around.
My hope is, unless we address this growing need, we will
not handle the current workload, much less emergent work that
comes out of, heaven forbid, an accident or wartime repair.
Senator Shaheen. I agree. Thank you.
Vice Admiral Merz. Ma'am, I will just----
Senator Shaheen. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Vice Admiral Merz.--pile on to say I have a lot of personal
experience with Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. It is a very solid
citizen as far as repairing our ships. On their behalf, I would
tell you the McCain is a tough test case. She is not a typical
repair. She is not a----
Senator Shaheen. Yeah, I was just--I was not suggesting
Vice Admiral Merz. Yes ma'am.
Senator Shaheen.--was an issue for the Portsmouth Naval
Shipyard, but just that it reflects the challenge that we have
Vice Admiral Merz. The McCain was somewhere between
reconstruction, twisted steel. She was a mess, and she took a
lot of bit--a lot of bit of work.
Senator Shaheen. Thank you.
Senator Wicker. Senator Kaine?
Senator Kaine. Well, if I could, I would just like to thank
Secretary Geurts because he, at my invitation, came down. And
just to kind of share, after we got the NDAA done and we had
the commitment to 355 ships, I think everybody in my
shipbuilding community was feeling great. I am sure your
communities were feeling the same way.
But we kind of needed a scared straight moment where these
will not build themselves. And so, we had, you know, the
workforce needs of a 355-ship Navy, and we pulled together
public and private shipyards, both the builders and repairers,
and then all of the K-12 systems. There is probably about 10
jurisdictions with K-12 systems, community college, 4-years.
Secretary Geurts and others came down and said if we are going
to do this, let me tell you what the need will be.
The head of the Huntington Ingalls shipyard said, ``Well,
the shipbuilders that will be building these are in pre-K right
now, but if we are not equipping with the skills or having
guidance counselors kind of position them in this direction,
then we will not meet the challenge in Hampton Roads, and we
might not meet the challenge as a Nation.''
Senator Wicker. Do you agree, Secretary, that around
Senator Shaheen's shipyard is really very, very cold there a
lot of the time?
Senator Wicker. At Senator Kaine's place, the traffic
congestion is just awful trying to get to and from work. You do
not have to answer that question.
Secretary Geurts. Sir, my family is from Green Bay. So
those are both very warm places.
Senator Kaine. Well, and I would just say, it turned out to
be just what my community needed. That June 8th symposium has
generated a follow-on collaboration, and I am attending the
opening of a new technical institute connected to Tidewater
Community College next Monday? Yes, I think next Monday, where
they will be training a lot of people in the trades that would
be relevant to this, but I think the workforce needs are going
to be massive.
And to balance--the other thing I will give Secretary
Geurts real compliments on, the notion of a 30-year ship repair
plan. It is one thing to do a 30-year shipbuilding plan. That
is fantastic. But the notion of ship repair, which was quite
affected by sequester, all the readiness stuff--``We will defer
maintenance on this for a while.'' And it really put the
workforce in a position where they did not know what was coming
and when it would come and how would sequester affect them.
The idea of trying to do a ship repair plan over the same
time horizon you are doing new construction makes perfect
sense. And that was also really music to the community's ears
to hear a degree of foresight going into the repair side. I
think all of our communities would benefit from that.
Last thing I will say, too, is I do not mean to throw a
competitor into the mix, but I toured the Navy base in Rota on
November the 9th, which was a Friday morning. In Rota, a lot of
American ship repair is done by Navantia. The Navy leadership
at the Rota base talked about, you know, we see our ships
repaired in public yards and by private shipyards in United
States and even by Navantia, and they were giving Navantia a
lot of props and saying, ``Hey, they built the Nina, the Pinta,
and the Santa Maria. They know what they are doing.''
So there are good ideas out there if you are trying to do a
30-year ship repair plan, and all the good ideas are not
necessarily all ours. So we ought to be trying to take good
ideas from wherever we can find them.
Secretary Geurts. Absolutely, sir. And again, I think if we
can clearly show that demand signal with some stability, then
we will get a number of players interested in that. Where we
are doing a lot of work on our side is really looking at how we
contract for those ship repairs and making improvements to
that. Both for a stability standpoint, we are already seeing
some of our improvements having a drastic impact on reducing
timeline and allowing more players to come in to create a
competitive and capable field. Because again, there is plenty
of work coming.
We struggled a little bit over the last several years with
the current amount of repairs. That is going to--as we talked
about, that is going to continue to grow. So we have got to pay
very close attention to that.
Senator Kaine. Excellent.
Senator Wicker. General Berger, thank you for listening to
us for an hour. The minimum Navy requirement for amphibious
ships is 38. Combatant commanders need more than 50 amphibious
ships on a day-to-day basis. The current inventory includes
only 32 amphibious ships, with just 10 to 15 operationally
available on a given day.
What is being done to close this gap? And let me ask you
about either a multiyear or block buy of LPDs.
Lieutenant General Berger. A couple of parts of the answer
to your question, Senator. First, the 38 ships, as you
mentioned, is the agreed number based on a capacity to land two
Marine expeditionary brigades. The National Defense Strategy
requires us to compete and deter and then fight if we need to,
which is why the combatant commanders, as you state, say it is
higher than 38. Without--if it is not going to go any higher
than that, then that means some risk somewhere in the globe
that the Secretary and the Chairman have to balance.
What we are doing to close it, what the Navy is doing to
close it on the big decks is the next LHA follow-on to the
American Tripoli, absolutely critical, and earlier is better
from a Navy/Marine Corps standpoint because we need 12 big
decks. They are an incredible platform, and anything we can do
to move that, accelerate that, is a good thing.
On the smaller end, the LPD Flight IIs, which is a follow-
on, of course, to the San Antonio-class, absolutely brilliant
use of a hull form that both the Marine Corps and Navy are
happy with, we are comfortable with in taking advantage of that
hull form to replace the LSDs, which are 35, 40 years old.
Senator Wicker. Maybe, Mr. Secretary, on the Flight II--
does the Navy plan to buy one ship at a time or block buy, and
is multiyear procurement an important tool in cutting costs and
stabilizing supplier base? Does the Navy plan to use the $350
million to buy multiple sets of long lead time material?
Secretary Geurts. So, generically, we have used block buys
and multiyears extremely effectively here with the support of
the Committee to both accelerate production and save costs. On
DDG 51, we will save $700 million on that multiyear.
In terms of the LPD one, it is a little early right now,
pre-decisional in terms of what we will do with that funding
until we sort out our 2020 budget. I will be happy to come
brief the Committee once we get the 2020 budget locked down,
and we will describe the strategy we have when we get the
President's budget over here in February.
Senator Wicker. Okay. Senator King?
Senator King. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I apologize for being late. There is no effort around here
to schedule hearings in any rational way. If you have a
computer system that can do that, let us know.
Admiral Merz, the Zumwalt is being armed, if you will,
combat system activation in San Diego. I guess my first
question is how is that going?
Vice Admiral Merz. It is going well. As you know, we did a
review of the complete requirements of the DDG 1000, the
advanced weapons system, the advanced gun system, and then the
combat system, and in the end, we decided to split the two
Senator King. Can you--is your mike on?
Vice Admiral Merz. Yes, sir, it is. I will lean forward
Senator King. Thank you.
Vice Admiral Merz. We determined that the best future for
that ship is to get it out there with the capability that it
has and separate out the advanced gun system, leaving
everything else in place, very capable platform with or without
that gun. We will be developing either that--the round that
goes with that gun or what we are going to do with the space if
we decide to remove that gun in the future.
The rest of the ship is doing fine. It is still on track to
be operational in 2021 to the fleet. And then in the ensuing
cycle to get it on deployment thereafter.
Senator King. I understand it has basically been re-
missioned from land attack to strike--sea-based strike. Is
that--can you define that?
Vice Admiral Merz. It has been re-missioned to a strike
platform, whether sea-based--sea targets or land targets. It
can handle both, and that takes advantage of its tremendous
arsenal of VLS cells. The other benefit of the Zumwalt-class is
those VLS cells are larger than any other surface ship VLS
cells. So it opens up an aperture of more weapons options for
So this is--this was thrust that drove us to, hey, let us
get the ship out there. Let us not hold it back because of the
projectile challenges. And it is a science and technology
challenge. It is not an engineering problem. We just cannot get
the thing to fly as far as we want. So we are going to continue
to work on that and take advantage of the strike capabilities
with the combat system of that ship.
Senator King. If my next question is getting into a
classified area, please tell me. Given the power capabilities
of that ship, is this--do we see this long term is an
opportunity for directed energy or other kinds of nonprojectile
or non-expensive projectiles?
Vice Admiral Merz. Yes, sir, we do. Before you arrived, I
talked about how we are moving to an era of new ship
adaptability. I would tell you Zumwalt is kind of the case
study for that. She has the balance of what we call SWAP-C, the
space, weight, power, and communications that allows us to
expand the ship over time. So she is going to be a candidate
for any advanced weapons systems that we develop.
Senator King. Particularly given the power generation.
Vice Admiral Merz. Exactly right. Exactly right.
Senator King. General Berger, do you have any concerns
about this re-missioning? Does this is undermine the land
strike capacity that the Marines might have been counting on
from this ship?
General Berger. Senator, I do not think it replaces it at
all. I think any forward commander is going to ask for all the
capability he can have, and the Zumwalt adds to an arsenal that
is already there. I do not look at it as a challenge or a
competitor at all. It is--if you were in PAC Fleet or PACOM,
this is more tools in your toolkit.
Senator King. Secretary Geurts, talk about combatants--
surface combatants. There is always a trade-off between
industrial base and absolute lowest price. Describe you and
Secretary Spencer's view of how do you make that trade-off to
be sure that we are maintaining the industrial base that is
necessary going forward.
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir. I mean, obviously, there are
all the things we consider as we look at different systems and
look at the industrial base. We aim to put together strategies
that enable us both to keep cost competitiveness, as well as a
predictable, stable industrial base.
So I think, as you saw, we adjust--by using the example of
the DDG 51, we adjusted from what used to be kind of a pro-
based approach to, okay complete for quantity, but each will
have enough quantity guaranteed to have a stable production
line. Then over time, we will compete. So, in our case, we did
not put the option ships into that 10 multiyear because
depending on when the timing was, depending on the situation,
we may make different choices on each of those option ships. So
Senator King. But is this kind of calculus going to be
applied to the option ships?
Secretary Geurts. Sir, we will always look at both pieces
of that. I have flexibility depending on--depending on the
situation to make determinations along any of those lines.
Senator King. That me ask about the frigates. You have
taken a different approach rather than a blank sheet of paper.
I cannot remember the term. ``Parent craft'' I think is the
term. Do you anticipate significant savings from that approach?
It makes sense to me. I will preface the question, but----
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir. I think two things that are
unique in that acquisition strategy that I think will bear
fruit for us. One is specifying that we needed to have a parent
design to then reduce the risk in the timeline associated with
Senator King. The timeline is very aggressive.
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir. The second piece, which I think
has been paying big dividends for us, is having an
interactive--an iterative requirements process. And so, the CNO
and I just slapped the table on the requirements for the
Senator King. You have closed the door?
Secretary Geurts. We have closed the door, but that was
after almost a year of iterative conversation with all the
industrial competitors where we looked at the cost, the risk,
the schedule impacts of any of these potential requirements
So between the requirements side and the acquisition side,
which included the industrial partners, we had a great back-
and-forth dialogue so that everybody understood going into the
competition exactly what was expected. And we understood, with
much more precision than we have in the past, the cost and risk
to any of our requirements. So that we, in the end, created the
best balance of affordability, achievability, and operational
effectiveness. That was a joint effort between the requirements
and the acquisition side.
Senator King. I compliment you on that. I think closing the
door on the requirements at some point is one of the ways that
we can defeat the problems of procurement and cost. How many of
these is the bid going to be for? How many frigates?
Secretary Geurts. So the initial bid will be for the lead
ship and then nine additional ships. So the first 10 of what is
currently a requirement of 20. That requirement may get
revisited over time.
Senator King. I understand that is winner-take-all. Out of
the five bidders, one yard is going to get all that business.
Secretary Geurts. That is the current acquisition approach.
Senator King. Why that approach? I mean, you are having
five yards, highly qualified, a lot of work, a lot of
intellectual input, why not some kind of division of those--of
that buy in order, again, to get back to the question we were
discussing about industrial base?
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir. It is certainly a trade-off. I
think the challenge is with the production rate that we
currently have laid into the shipbuilding plan, one would have
to really look hard is do we have--is there enough work to
sustain two yards in parallel with that?
Now, obviously, if we revisit that production rate and
production ramp, there are certainly opportunities to have more
than one yard produce that. Part of our strategy will be to
produce a data package that would allow, should we want to go
down that path, additional producers of the ship. We will have
to balance that. So that will be a cost-effective----
Senator King. Plus, for the second round, you would have
additional competition. You would have additional competition
plus industrial base maintenance. I hope that is at least in
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir. We will continue to look at
that as we go forward. Our current focus right now, and I am
happy to report we are on track in terms of locking the
requirements down. We will have a draft RFP out this spring. We
will have a final RFP out by the end of this fiscal year, which
will put us in conditions to effectively award that initial
contract in October of 2020.
Senator King. All right, thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Senator Wicker. Senator Blumenthal?
Senator Blumenthal. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for
having this hearing, and thank you, each of you, for your
service to our Nation and for being here today.
I was very pleased, Secretary Geurts and Admiral Merz, to
see in your written testimony that the Columbia-class program
remains the Navy's number-one acquisition priority and is on
track to start construction at the beginning of fiscal year
2020 to 2021. I assume you would agree with me that it is
vitally important that that program remain on track.
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir. That is my number-one priority.
Senator Blumenthal. That is the reason that I championed an
additional $237 million in this year's NDAA in advance
procurement above the President's Budget to address the long
lead time that is required for this kind of program, adding
capacity and capability to sufficiently prepare the submarine
industrial base for that very substantial increase in work. You
cannot hire people necessary for that kind of program just by
putting an ad in the newspaper. Correct?
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir. The supplier base will be one
of the pacing items for that program, particularly as we look
at that program, two Virginias and four aircraft carrier. We
are looking across that base all the time.
Senator Blumenthal. Would you support increased advance
procurement funding for that program?
Secretary Geurts. Sir, I would say in advance procurement
funding and anything we can do to help the supplier base will
drastically reduce risk going forward. What we are seeing in
most of our construction programs is a key risk is supplier
fragility, either single sources or single producers where we
have to ramp up production.
Senator Blumenthal. Thank you.
I am sure that you have read repeatedly and carefully the
GAO report entitled, ``Actions Needed To Address Costly
Maintenance Delays Facing the Attack Submarine Fleet.'' I know
Senator Shaheen asked you about maintenance issues, and others
may have as well. The report concluded, ``The Navy has not
effectively allocated maintenance periods among the public and
private shipyards to limit attack submarine idle time.''
As you are well aware, the GAO estimates that since fiscal
year 2008, 14 attack submarines have spent a combined 61
months, 1,891 days, idling while waiting to enter shipyards for
maintenance. Meanwhile, Electric Boat, which has additional
capacity to take on maintenance availabilities, is being
underutilized, which harms our industrial base because it means
that those idle workers will go elsewhere.
In fact, without additional work, Electric Boat's workforce
will decline just as it needs to ramp up the workforce for
Columbia-class production. They need to hire an additional
15,000 new employees over the next 10 years.
So we need action now to address the backlog that is bad
for our national security and the harmful impact on our
industrial base. We have been talking about this maintenance
backlog for over a year with no clear solution in sight. When
will the Navy release a plan to provide maintenance work to
Electric Boat in order to help manage their workforce and the
maintenance that needs to be done?
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir. Attack submarine availability
is a critical issue for us, particularly as we have the bathtub
approaching. And so, it is one of the primary focuses for
myself and Naval Sea Systems Command.
Currently, we have four submarines in maintenance
availabilities at a combination of Electric Boat and Newport
News. We are going to award at least two additional
availabilities into the private yards to better balance that
out. But going forward, you know, under the new role this
Committee provided me to oversee sustainment readiness, that is
really--I am really focusing on getting predictability and
advanced planning in the readiness area for ship repair, with a
particular focus on submarines.
And not only look at making sure we have got the public and
the private yard balance correct, but we do it in a predictable
manner so that the private yards can facilitize and be prepared
for it. Ideally, my hope would be that we would have an
enduring capability at both the public yards and the private
yards for submarine maintenance repair.
Senator Blumenthal. Can you tell us when you will be making
Secretary Geurts. So the first four are currently underway.
We will be, I believe, this summer releasing, this spring/
summer the RFPs for those next two maintenance availabilities.
Then we are going to continue to look out over time. I can give
you--if you like, I will take a question for the record on the
exact timing of each one of those.
But my strategic approach to this is balancing out that
work and getting predictability into the maintenance planning
so that we have capacity to get those ships both in and out of
those availabilities on time to give the combatant commanders
the capability they need.
Senator Blumenthal. Two of those awards will be for private
and two for public? Is that the----
Secretary Geurts. Of our upcoming availabilities, at least
two of them will be to the private yards.
Senator Blumenthal. And will one of those yards be Electric
Secretary Geurts. We are still sorting out exactly our
strategy, whether we are going to compete those two private
availabilities or award those sole source.
Senator Blumenthal. And you would be able to provide more
information in a question for the record?
Secretary Geurts. Absolutely, sir.
Senator Blumenthal. I appreciate your----
Secretary Geurts. Absolutely.
Senator Blumenthal.--responding in that way. As you know,
often the cost is lower in private yards like Electric Boat
than it is in the public yards. The GAO concluded that private
shipyards were 24 percent less expensive from 2010 to 2017 for
overhauling Los Angeles-class subs. Has that been your
Secretary Geurts. That has not been my experience, per se.
But I guess what I would say is not taking on which is cheaper
than the other, every one of them will benefit through better
planning, more advance planning, and having a strategy
everybody can plan to and then execute, versus right now, we do
not--we have not provided the planning horizons, which then
drives up the cost on either side.
Senator Blumenthal. I think that strategic change in
direction will be welcome to everybody on this Committee
because we are all concerned about the maintenance backlogs
that have occurred, which pose a danger to our national
security as well as our fiscal health. And I appreciate your
providing any additional information.
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir. And we are going to absolutely
need those private yards as we look to service life extend some
of the Los Angeles-class ones by re-coring those. That will put
additional pressure on the public yards. And so, again, my
intent is to with this 30-year ship repair plan, get more
ahead--get ahead of these looming availabilities and repair
cycles so that we can put the right strategy in place, which
than enables us to more cost effectively deliver those
availabilities and get those ships back in the fleet.
Senator Blumenthal. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Wicker. General Berger, let us talk ship to shore.
Tell us how we are doing on the Marine air/ground taskforces,
and with regard to the ship to shore maneuver and the vision
for the future, what are our gaps and shortfalls?
General Berger. Senator, the connectors that you spoke of,
as important as they are right now, they are going to be more
important in the future. In a peer competition world which you
alluded to in the beginning, the concept for the Navy's
operations and the Marine Corps naval force forward, we are
going to be more distributed. The more distributed we are, the
more important connectors are.
The LCACs we have right now that have been SLEP'ed once
already need to be replaced, and they are being replaced. They
have to be. The LCUs that are 45, 50 years old have to also be
replaced. Both are going to be critical to move the naval
force, the Marine MAGTFs around the naval force, both from ship
to shore, shore to shore, and shore back to ship.
So those two--the programs for the LCAC replacement and for
the LCU replacement, absolutely essential.
Senator Wicker. Okay. Well, let me move to A2AD, General
Berger, and Admiral, you may want to join in here. Much have
been made of emerging anti-access and area denial, A2AD,
capabilities of certain countries. To what extent are existing
and emerging A2AD capabilities a concern for the amphibious
General Berger. I think the A2AD threat, which is well
publicized, drives you toward a place where amphibious forces,
the amphibious capability is even more important. And the
reason for that is you are going to need--in the layered
offense and defense, you are going to need forward forces,
inside forces that are survivable and lethal both.
So the ability to project power from a sea base, a
sovereign ship, a platform from the sea, onto either an
advanced naval base or to secure a commons area--a strait, for
example, that might be contested--any of those are possible
missions that the maritime component commander might need to
do. I mean, his job one is to keep the commons open for
friendly use and perhaps deny them from a threat.
So the ability to--if you did not have an amphibious force,
said another way, Senator, if you lack that capability, then
your only option is to bring it from some other land, some
Senator Wicker. Are we talking--is our assumption 5 miles,
25 miles? What is the distance?
General Berger. It is going to be completely threat
dependent. It is going to be dependent on the operating
environment that that commander sees in front of him.
Senator Wicker. Admiral, do you have anything to add?
Vice Admiral Merz. I would only add that A2AD is one of
those peer competitor capabilities, both ours and theirs, that
we track closely. This will rapidly go to a higher
classification, but it is probably less range dependent than
sector dependent. That is kind of how we look at it. And the
ability to operate in those environments creates advantages and
disadvantages, depending on how you are outfitted to deal with
Senator Wicker. Senator King?
Senator King. Thank you.
We are doing multiyear procurement block buys for
combatants, maintaining industrial base. Do we have a plan on
recapitalizing ready reserve force? We can have great
combatants, but if we cannot get the supply to them, that is a
problem. Where does that stand?
Secretary Geurts. I will talk about it. I will say
generically, and then Admiral Merz can talk about it from a
requirements standpoint. I would say, yes, that is absolutely
something we are going to have to work our way through in the
Right now, we are looking at it in a combination of
extending some service life extension of our current assets
through the authorities given and through the Committee, some
potential procurement of some used assets, and then looking at
a future ship Common Hull--CHAMP program that could potentially
provide some new build assets going into the future. And so, we
are looking at all three of those lines of operation.
On CHAMP, specifically, we are preparing by the end of the
year to put an RFP out and bring on multiple potential builders
to do similar to what we have done with frigate and get into an
iterative requirements kind of solution space to try and, you
know, lock down more of the specific requirements for that
Admiral Merz's team has been working on the requirements
from a warfighting standpoint. This would enable us to do the
same thing we did in frigate, bring in the industry team early
and then get into some iterative design requirements trade-offs
so that we could then set our final requirements for what a
CHAMP program would look like in the outyears.
Senator King. This is sort of a parenthetical, but we go
home and are asked to defend the defense budget and the cost.
And one of the things that I have tried to get across is we are
recapitalizing a lot of--and the submarine is the biggest
example and in the nuclear area, the number. It would be
helpful, I think, if you guys could quantify that to some
extent. In other words, what is ordinary cost of operations,
and what is recapitalization? The Columbia-class would be the
Because I think those are two different subjects that the
public needs to understand that we are, in a sense, paying
bills that have not been paid because some of these platforms
are 40, 50 years old. And the Air Force, of course, we have got
all kinds of situations where the planes are a lot older than
the pilots. So that would be helpful, for the record, if you
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir. I would be happy to both answer
that and then talk in those terms as we are going forward.
Senator King. What is operation and maintenance versus what
Couple of other questions. On the cruiser, we are talking
about--we are talking about the frigate. Are you thinking of
following a similar program on the new cruiser that it might be
a pre-existing design and rather than a clean sheet of paper?
Secretary Geurts. Sir, I think we are on the early end of
defining all of the parameters around that. Admiral Merz can
talk from the requirements side. Their team has been working
the initial requirements. We are starting to engage industry.
Senator King. It just seems to me to the extent that we
have hull designs, that we do not have to necessarily modify.
That is a much more--that is better for the taxpayers. It is
faster. I hope that is in the plan.
Secretary Geurts. There are advantages to the degree that
we have hulls that can meet the requirement.
Vice Admiral Merz. Yes, sir. I mean, we were very pleased
with how the frigate requirements definition phase went.
Senator King. Can you come up a little closer?
Vice Admiral Merz. That will certainly----
Senator King. That will inform the process?
Vice Admiral Merz. That will certainly inform the large
surface combatant process. It really just comes down to the
SWAP-C that we spoke about on the DDG 1000, whether or not in
the requirements definition phase on whether or not we can
generate a hull that is going to give us enough volume to
evolve over time.
Senator King. I hope that one of the requirements for all
these new platforms is that they be easily modifiable.
Vice Admiral Merz. Yes, sir.
Senator King. That is a 50-year hull, but you might have 10
years of software and then----
Vice Admiral Merz. Sir, the way we say it is we cannot help
that we make great ships that are around for 50 years, but what
we can help is the ability to evolve them very quickly. And
this whole adaptability piece is driving requirements.
Senator King. I would think that would be a design
Vice Admiral Merz. Yes, sir.
Senator King. There was some testimony--not testimony.
There was a question in the full Committee meeting this morning
about the John S. McCain, and it is about to come back into
service. It has taken a long time. Why did that take so long to
get a ship--I mean, you could practically have built a new ship
in the year plus that it took to repair that ship.
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir. And I think that points to our
need for stable and predictable funding and programming that
allows us then to build both the industrial base and the repair
base that can handle the needs----
Senator King. Was with a problem with--was there no place
to fix it, or did it--it was just a yard that----
Secretary Geurts. I think it was a--I think some of those
repairs are more complex than they first appear looking at them
from the outside. You know, Fitz has had some--you know, it is
a is pretty tremendous job to repair some of it. There are some
modernization that is also occurring ongoing with it. And then
you have got to work it into a fairly constrained right now
either new build or repair yard workforce and capacity.
And so, my intent over time is as we look at this 30-year
ship repair plan and 30-year shipbuilding plan, if we can
provide stability in those efforts, we can get the workforce
and the capacity built up, which then would allow us more
quickly to address emergent work than we currently have right
now with the----
You know, if you look at the industrial base report we
submitted to the President on the executive order, one of its
findings was we do not have a lot of excess capacity either in
new build or in repair. And so, when an emergent repair comes
out that you were not planning for, you do not have a lot of
assets to immediately throw in that without having impacts down
Senator King. One follow-up question, if I might, Mr.
Chair? A more general question is availability, generally. I
would appreciate it if you could supply for the Committee by
class of ships what percentage of the fleet of that class is
available at any given moment? In other words, is it 50
percent, 60, 70, 80? I do not know.
I would think would be interesting to know and important to
know because if we are better--if we are able to keep our ships
in better repair, it can be a savings in the long run. You
could end up with the same combat power for less dollars if we
maintain and life extend. So I would just like to know fleet
availability along the various types of ships and any thoughts
you have on it.
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir, happy to provide that for you,
and we will provide it by each class of ship. Obviously, a
Senator King. Do a comparison with the cruise lines ship.
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir. Lots of different----
Senator King. Lots of differences.
Secretary Geurts. Lots of differences, but there are
certainly--and one of the things we have doing last year both,
and particularly in aviation readiness, is taking best lesson
learned out of that and bring them. We have had--we have
Senator King. My sense is the private sector does a better
job of their capital assets being online. I do not know, but
that is the impression.
Secretary Geurts. There are certainly opportunities to
learn from all that. We have relationships with--in fact, we
have got a team that is going to go down and has a relationship
with Carnival Cruise Lines to look at that very notion.
Senator King. So my question was not completely stupid?
Secretary Geurts. No, sir. Absolutely not.
Senator King. I was worried.
Secretary Geurts. We will----
Senator Wicker. Can you put a percentage on how stupid the
Senator King. Yes, that is right.
General Berger. Could I just add one thought? Because we
talk about this all the time--the snapshot, whether it is
aviation or ships, that we provide to you is going to be skewed
because we deferred maintenance for years.
Senator King. Yes.
General Berger. So the snapshot will look not--we will not
be happy with that snapshot because we knew--when we ran those
ships and planes hard for a decade, we knew we were going to
play a price on the backside.
Senator King. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Wicker. Just a follow-up, Mr. Secretary, your
written statement describes corrective measures being taken to
address recent issues of welding quality and inadequate testing
of missile tubes for the Columbia-class. Can you provide your
assessment of the root causes and program impact?
Secretary Geurts. Yes, sir. The challenges we had with
Columbia were on the missile tubes. We had similar issues on
missile tubes on the Ohio program decades ago. So we had moved
those missile tubes very early in the program to prove out the
fabrication welding of those assets.
When we got into looking at the first set of tubes that
were manufactured, there were issues with improper inspection
of welds, which led to missile tubes that did not fully meet
all of the specifications in terms of those weld designs. So
that was an issue at a supplier. The supplier did not inspect
properly the welds. Those then got shipped to the production
Senator Wicker. What were the consequences to that
Secretary Geurts. So that supplier is on a fixed-price
contract. So that supplier--subcontract to EB. So that supplier
now is repairing all of those missile tubes.
Fortunately, we had programmed those mission tubes with a
lot of margin in terms of our schedule. So we currently assess
we still have 12 to 13 months of schedule margin even with all
of the missile tube repairs. And so, we do not assess that will
impact the Columbia build schedule, which is critical for us.
But again, it is a very important issue.
One of the issues that points to, and we have had a
couple--we have talked about the Collins shaft issue as well--
is the criticality of the supply base. In the industrial base
report, I think since 2000 it documented over 20,000 they call
them establishments that have disappeared from the shipbuilding
industrial base, really pointing to that fragility in the
supply base. And so, that is one of the areas we are really
focused on ensuring, one, we have got suppliers that are the
building the quality products we need, and two, anywhere we
have some of these single-point suppliers we try and build up
Senator Wicker. You guys are in the building business and
hardware business, not so much in the personnel business,
except that you really are. What quality of young Americans are
stepping forward now, General and Admiral? And we are asking
them to handle some pretty state-of-the-art, sophisticated
stuff. Am I correct?
Vice Admiral Merz. Yes, sir. Our talent is eye-watering.
And I do a lot of public speaking----
Senator Wicker. Eye-watering, yes.
Vice Admiral Merz. Sir. And whenever the question comes up
of the quality of American youth, I just simply say come to sea
with us and see them. Keeping them from getting bored is
probably the biggest challenge. I mean, they are very active.
They are very multi-task. The grow up in an environment to
communicate across multiple domains simultaneously. In a long
story, I can tell you about my daughter that I use as an
example, but they truly are just top-shelf individuals.
The challenge is it is only 1 percent of Americans qualify
to serve in the military. All services are competing for that
talent. It is often the same talent pool that the engineering
companies are competing for. So attractive pay, benefits, the
training, those are the things we continue to press forward to
draw on the talent we need. It is an all-volunteer force, and
that makes it a competition.
Senator Wicker. General, anything to add?
General Berger. I think Secretary Geurts spoke earlier
about not taking the industrial base for granted. He did not
say it in those words, but that was what he inferred. And I
think you can say the same thing about the recruiting effort
that the services have to do. That is an every day, every hour
of every day effort. Because just like the Admiral said, there
is a lot of competition out there for the same talent.
I agree with him that the caliber of high school graduates
and college students that come into the service, we have never
seen anything at that level. But it is also something you
cannot take for granted. It is an everyday battle.
And I think in my personal experience--I will not speak for
anyone else. My personal experience, the only time we are going
to have to worry about that really is if they ever sense that
the country is not behind them, is not supportive of them in
some way, then we ought to be worried. But as long as that is
the case, we will find enough patriots, and they are very well-
Senator Wicker. Well, thank you very much, gentlemen. We
appreciate your service, and we appreciate your information to
And if there is nothing else--are there some magic words
that I am supposed to say?
Oh, let me just add, Senator King is right about the
scheduling. Senator Hirono, in spite of her best intentions, is
not going to be able to make it to the hearing at all. I will
just submit my opening statement for the record.
[The prepared statement of Senator Wicker follows:]
Prepared Statement of Roger F. Wicker
The Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower convenes this
afternoon to examine Navy shipbuilding programs.
We welcome our three distinguished witnesses:
The Honorable James F. Geurts (GERTS), Assistant
Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition;
Vice Admiral William R. Merz, Deputy Chief of Naval
Operations for Warfare Systems; and
Lieutenant General David H. Berger, Deputy Commandant of
the Marine Corps for Combat Development and Integration.
This is the first appearance for General Berger before this
Subcommittee, so let me extend a special welcome and thanks for your
decades of service to our Nation.
In 2016, the Navy increased its minimum requirement to 355 battle
force ships, a reflection of the strategic shift to great power
competition. This Subcommittee takes that requirement seriously. In
fact, every Member of this Subcommittee co-sponsored legislation that I
introduced last year--the SHIPS Act--to make achieving 355 ships the
official policy of the United States. The SHIPS Act was included in the
Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act and signed into law
by President Trump.
However, the Navy currently stands at only 286 battle force ships.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about the Navy's plans to
meet the 355-ship requirement and options that could enable
acceleration of this timeline.
Additionally, I would like to review a number of other
shipbuilding-related topics, including the following:
The new Force Structure Assessment, including the factors
that have led the Navy to conduct a new Assessment;
The Columbia-class submarine program, including greater
clarity on the long-term funding plan and the corrective action plan
for missile tube manufacturing defects;
The Ford-class aircraft carrier program, including the
Department's intentions regarding the block buy of the next two
carriers (CVNs 80 and 81) and Advanced Weapons Elevator development;
The Frigate program, including the path to awarding the
lead ship contract in fiscal year 2020;
The Future Surface Combatant program and the path to
establishing the associated programs of record; and
The Navy's plan to recapitalize the Nation's sealift,
including the Military Sealift Command surge fleet and Ready Reserve
Secretary Mattis testified earlier this year that ``we are moving
toward a more maritime strategy in terms of our military strategy to
defend the country.'' To this end, there is no question that a larger
fleet comprised of more capable ships is urgently needed to implement
the new National Defense Strategy. This Subcommittee will continue
looking for new ways to partner with the Navy to build the 355-ship
fleet faster, while at the same time demanding the best use of every
I look forward to our witnesses' testimony. I now recognize Senator
Senator Wicker. Do we need to leave some time open? Let us
leave it open for a week for questions for the record.
Senator Wicker. Anything else, Senator King?
Thank you, sir, and thank you, gentlemen.
This hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 4:04 p.m., the Committee adjourned.]
[Questions for the record with answers supplied follow:]
Questions Submitted by Senator Mike Rounds
attack submarine questions
1. Senator Rounds. Vice Admiral Merz, how is the Navy planning to
mitigate the attack submarine shortfall in the 2020s?
How will the implementation of this mitigation plan change the
current projections for attack submarines in the 355-ship plan
submitted to Congress?
Understanding the degradation of the industrial base Admiral Merz
described in our discussion during the 27 November hearing, what
outside the box thinking can be applied and how can Congress assist the
Navy with resources to address this shortfall PRIOR to the estimate of
``towards the end of the current shipbuilding cycle'' that Admiral Merz
provided at this hearing?
Vice Admiral Merz. Similar to other shipbuilding lines, Navy is
partnering closely with industry in applying the three enduring
principles discussed in the fiscal year 2019 Shipbuilding Plan. First,
steady growth--staying absolutely committed to steady procurement
profiles, which for the SSNs is two per year; deviating only
deliberately, and only in concert with other industrial base activity.
Second--aggressive growth--taking advantage of additional industrial
capacity when available. Based upon the challenges related to expanding
the workforce for the new Columbia-class SSBN and the ongoing delays in
private shipyard maintenance, Navy is cautious regarding adding new-
construction projects, but has targeted the ``gap years'' in SSBN
production to add additional SSNs to reach the force structure
requirement of 66 earlier. Third--service life extensions--perhaps the
most actionable option, Navy has identified seven candidate Los
Angeles-class submarines for refueling, two of which are funded in the
FYDP which will mitigate the near term SSN shortfalls in the late
Regarding resources, Congress' support to Navy shipbuilding
accounts has been superb. But introduction of continuous production of
Columbia-class SSBN represents Navy's single largest fiscal challenge
for upcoming budgets and may constitute the biggest threat to the other
lines, including SSNs. As we continue to probe the limits of the
industrial base, and we're able to more aggressively drive production,
we'll coordinate closely on resourcing opportunities.
Additionally, consistent annual funding in the shipbuilding account
is fundamental to sustaining steady growth (capacity). Equally
important as the new ships are delivered is the properly phased,
additional funding in operating, maintenance, and sustainment, which
accounts for a much larger fiscal burden over the life of a ship. The
burden on these accounts is growing, and will continue to grow until
equilibrium is reached at the desired higher inventory, when deliveries
match retirements and all resourcing accounts reach steady-state. For
perspective, the current budget, among the largest ever, supports a
modern fleet of approximately 300 ships. Sustaining a much larger 355
ship fleet must be coordinated with Congress as we continue to grow.
2. Senator Rounds. Vice Admiral Merz, how many attack submarines
are in dry dock right now?
How many attack submarines are in the queue for dry dock?
How long will it be for each of these submarines to get to dry
What is the average wait projected for other attack submarines that
will be moving to this queue in the next year? Two years? Five years?
What can congress do to, with respect to providing resources, to
improve the situation?
As of today, how many attack submarines are non-operational and
awaiting dry dock?
Vice Admiral Merz. There are nine attack (SSN) submarines currently
in dry dock in public and private shipyards. Seven other SSN submarines
have undocked and are nearing completion of their maintenance
availability, but have not yet returned to operational status. There
are 13 SSN submarines currently in the availability planning window. As
of today, three of the 13 (USS Charlotte (SSN 766), USS San Juan (SSN
751) and USS Boise (SSN 764)) are restricted to surface operations
awaiting dry docking (in the queue). Based on a data date of 22 January
2019, of the three SSNs restricted to surface operations, SSN 766 is
scheduled to enter dry dock in June 2019; SSN 751 in February 2019; and
SSN 764 in May 2019. In the next year (22 January 2019 to 1 February
2020), three other SSN submarines will be restricted to surface
operations awaiting dry dock with an average wait time of approximately
9 months. In the next two years (22 January 2019 to 1 February 2021), a
total of seven SSNs (four more in addition to the three cited above in
the first year) will be restricted to surface operations awaiting dry
dock with an average wait time of approximately 7 months. In the next
five years (22 January 2019 to 1 February 2024), a total of nine SSNs
(two more than the seven cited above in the first two years) will be
restricted to surface operations awaiting dry dock with an average wait
time of approximately 6 months. Continued Congressional resource
support for the Navy's depot maintenance improvement initiatives,
including the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan, as well as
continued support for Navy's efforts to balance our public sector
workload, maintain a healthy industrial base, and reduce idle time by
contracting selected SSN availabilities to the private sector will help
to improve the situation.
Questions Submitted by Senator Richard Blumenthal
3. Senator Blumenthal. Secretary Geurts, last week, GAO released a
report titled; ``Actions Needed to Address Costly Maintenance Delays
Facing the Attack Submarine Fleet.'' The report concluded, ``[the] Navy
has not effectively allocated maintenance periods among the public and
private Shipyards to limit attack submarine idle time.'' Transferring a
few backlogged availabilities from the public yards to the private
yards should be explored as a short-term solution for the backlog. It
would help grow private yard workforce and help mitigate the workforce
decline. I am concerned that we have been talking about the maintenance
backlog for over a year--with a clear solution in sight--and there is
not enough urgency in addressing the issue. When will the Navy release
a plan to provide maintenance work to private shipyards in order to
help manage their workforce? When will the Navy decide whether to sole
source or open competition these availabilities? How many maintenance
availabilities do you anticipate awarding to private shipyards,
particularly Electric Boat?
Secretary Geurts. A report to Congress on Submarine Maintenance was
signed on December 27, 2018, and provides a five-year plan for
submarine maintenance that restores operational availability and fully
utilizes both public and private nuclear-capable shipyards. The Navy
plans to outsource two availabilities to the private sector in fiscal
year 2020 and fiscal year 2021. The acquisition strategy is currently
being formulated for these availabilities. General Dynamics Electric
Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industries--Newport News Shipbuilding are
the two qualified private shipyards in the United States to perform
4. Senator Blumenthal. Secretary Geurts, CBO released a report in
September titled, ``Comparing the Costs of Submarine Maintenance at
Public and Private Shipyards,'' and found private shipyards, on
average, were less expensive than public shipyards. In fact, CBO
concluded private shipyards were 24 percent less expensive from 2010 to
2017 for overhauling Los Angeles-class Subs. In your hearing testimony,
you indicated that this has not been your experience. Please provide
the Navy's cost estimate for private versus public shipyard maintenance
and an explanation for any discrepancies in cost analysis.
Secretary Geurts. Based on our analysis, the cost between the
public and private shipyards are competitive.
The Navy met with CBO to review their analysis and determine how
they arrived at their conclusions. As part of those discussions, the
Navy determined that CBO had been provided data directly from the
Visibility and Management of Operating and Support Costs (VAMOSC)
system which has been known to have incomplete information. After
correcting for the known data errors, the Navy ran an analysis using
much of the CBO methodology. The results are discussed below.
The Navy's analysis shows that both sectors--public and
private--are competitive with the cost of performing an availability.
It is important that the public and private shipyards continue to price
their availabilities to be cost efficient and maintain capabilities.
CBO analysis relied on cost alone which is not sufficient
to reach an accurate conclusion. Duration of the availability, which
was not addressed by CBO, plays a significant role in the Navy's
ability to meet National Defense Strategy requirements. The Navy's
analysis shows the private shipyard availabilities experience
significantly longer duration times with more days of maintenance
delays which combined, has a larger negative impact on operational
Shipyards Total Availability Duration Days of Maintenance Delay
Public Shipyards 145-165 Days, (Range) 45-60 Days, (Range)
Private Shipyards 323 Days, (Average) 147 Days, (Average)
This study revealed the limitations of using VAMOSC as
the sole source for availability information.
Navy recognizes the private shipyards are strategic
partners and will continue to consider the entire public/private
industrial base as it assesses workload requirements and seeks to
mitigate workload peaks within any given year.
The limitations and assumptions considered in calculating
the cost between the private and public shipyards, and due to
proprietary business decisions made by private shipyards, an apples-to-
apples comparison is extremely challenging. Based on this analysis and
two current private shipyard EOH avails which are expected to cost over
$440 million each (an average $115 million over current public shipyard
costs), we conclude that cost savings between public and private
shipyards is marginal, at best.
5. Senator Blumenthal. Secretary Geurts, in last year's NDAA, I
required the Navy to submit a report on how it plans to address this
maintenance backlog. The report delivered in February stated, ``The
Navy intends to execute all the workload programmed at the Naval Ship
Yards, with no availabilities moving from the public to the private
sector.'' Yet at a House Armed Services hearing in March, Secretary
Spencer acknowledged that private yards will be more involved with
maintenance. In your testimony, you also alluded to plans to distribute
work among private shipyards. Please provide an explanation for these
discrepancies and the plan to proceed.
Secretary Geurts. Each year, the Navy holds a Fleet Scheduling
Conference intended to establish a plan for executable depot
maintenance schedules that maximizes operational availability of the
submarine fleet. The dynamic nature of submarine operations and
maintenance requires refinement of this plan on an annual basis. Navy
always considers the importance of balancing the workload across the
public and private sectors to support future maintenance and
modernization requirements, as well as ensuring new ship construction
efforts in the private sector are adequately supported. Based on our
most recent analysis of the workload, the Navy plans on outsourcing two
availabilities to the private sector; one in each of fiscal years 2020
attack submarine strike capacity
6. Senator Blumenthal. Secretary Geurts, as our guided-missile
submarines--the SSGNs--begin to retire in fiscal year 2026 to 2028, the
Navy will face a reduction in strike capacity. To meet this need, the
first Virginia Payload Module boat will be begin construction in fiscal
year 2019. In the 30-Year Shipbuilding Plan, the Navy notes that
Virginia Payload Module is a ``mid-term'' strategy for replacing the
SSGN strike capacity. The plan then signals that the Navy is
considering adding up to five more modified Columbia-class submarines
in the 2030s and 2040s, similar to current SSGNs that provide
significant cruise missile payload power. This would help address the
``boom and bust'' build cycles and stabilize the build rate to help
maintain workforce rates. What can you tell us about the Navy's desire
to continue building additional Columbia-class submarines beyond the 12
boats to be completed in the 2030s?
Secretary Geurts. There are two governing documents that identify
the need for a payload-based large diameter submarine, the Nuclear
Posture Review and the fiscal year (FY) 2019 Long Range Plan for
Construction of Naval Vessels. The Nuclear Posture Review directed the
need for a minimum force of 12 total Columbia-class SSBNs. The Navy
could potentially procure additional Columbia-class SSBNs or similar
platforms if necessitated by changes in the strategic environment.
The four SSGNs now in service retire in the mid-2020s. The Long
Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for fiscal year 2019
identified the need to build a payload-based large diameter submarine
that will follow Block V Virginia-class attack submarines with Virginia
Payload Modules in accordance with the Tactical Submarine Evolution
Plan. The Navy is evaluating the continued production of the Columbia-
class Hull Form to serve as SSGN(X) with future payloads and
Questions Submitted by Senator Mazie Hirono
public shipyard modernization
7. Senator Hirono. Secretary Geurts, we are all aware of the Navy's
new plan for modernizing the public ship yards. I consider this to be a
major improvement after years of neglect of this important
infrastructure. Certainly, there have been military construction
projects and various upgrades over the years, but the Navy has pursued
these without a comprehensive plan. The Navy told us earlier this year
that the Navy would issue a master plan for modernizing the 4 public
shipyards in the fall of 2018. That master plan was intended to guide
Navy investment over the next 20 years. Secretary Guerts, has the Navy
released that master plan? If not, when do you expect to release the
Secretary Geurts. The Navy has not yet finalized a master plan for
modernizing the four public shipyards. We intend to release the plan in
the second quarter of fiscal year 2020 after we complete our next phase
of modeling and simulation.
The Department of the Navy has released a Shipyard Infrastructure
Optimization Plan (SIOP), as required by the fiscal year 2018 National
Defense Authorization Act. The SIOP provided a framework of the
requirements for recapitalizing the infrastructure at the four public
nuclear shipyards to include critical dry dock repairs, restoring
needed shipyard facilities and optimizing their placement, and
replacing aging and deteriorating capital equipment. Sustained funding
in these three areas will ensure that the public shipyards have the
capability and capacity to execute the projected nuclear maintenance
workload. The estimated cost and schedule for this effort is $21
billion over 20 years.
The plan for recapitalization of the Naval Shipyards involves
modeling and simulation with industrial consultations to ensure the
optimal placement of facilities and completes the SIOP's Phase II.
Initial modeling and simulation at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard is
planned to start February 2019, with the target date for finalizing the
master plan (the recapitalization of all four shipyards) in the second
quarter of fiscal year 2020.
8. Senator Hirono. Secretary Guerts, given the backlogs of current
ship maintenance and the likely growth in ship maintenance to support a
355-ship fleet, how much should we expand the capacity of the public
yards to support our Navy?
Secretary Geurts. The Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan
(SIOP) was developed to recapitalize dry docks and capital equipment
and to optimize the facility layout at the four Naval Shipyards. These
efforts will improve the performance at Naval Shipyards by increasing
dry dock capacity, providing shipyard workers with new industrial
equipment and by reducing total personnel and material travel and
movement. The SIOP is expected to account for the new force structure
of the nuclear fleet by recapitalizing the four existing Naval
cvn-78 advanced weapons elevators (awe)
9. Senator Hirono. Secretary Guerts, the CVN-78 program has been
subject to a number of problems during its construction. We are all too
familiar with the testing and development problems of the Dual Band
Radar (DBR), the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), and
the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) programs. Now the programs is
experiencing further problems with the Advanced Weapons Elevator (AWE)
program. The ship delivered nearly 3 years behind schedule, and it now
seems likely that the ship will not complete post shakedown
availability on time due to slips in the AWE program. Are the problems
with each of these four developmental programs in any way attributable
to a problem with systems engineering expertise or discipline within
the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA)? Virginia-class production
Secretary Geurts. No, Naval Sea Systems Command's systems
engineering expertise is not the problem. The problems the CVN 78
program encountered with the four developmental programs (DBR / EMALS /
AAG / AWE) are attributable to: 1) a lack of fully ship representative
land-based test facilities; and 2) fielding developmental systems in a
concurrent design and construction environment. Limited land-based test
infrastructure delayed discovery of first of class design and ship
integration issues. Resolution of identified challenges in many
instances required CVN 78 shipboard hardware and software changes which
drove schedule delays.
10. Senator Hirono. Secretary Guerts, we understand there may be
delays in projected deliveries of Virginia-class submarines,
particularly from Newport News. Some of these relate to production in
general, and some relate to problems in welding shafts. Can you give us
the latest status on resolving the welding problems for attack
Secretary Geurts. Shafts procured for Virginia-class Submarine
(VCS) Block IV ships are 4.5-to-12 months late to the shipbuilder
required in-yard dates. Collins Machine Works (Collins) informed the
Navy of an issue with shaft construction on August 23, 2018. An
assessment team was formed consisting of Navy, shipbuilder, and vendor
representatives to evaluate the situation, identify alternative design
options and qualify new products and procedures.
The shafts are procured by Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport
News Shipbuilding (HII-NNS) and there have been issues with
satisfactorily applying cladding during manufacturing of main
propulsion shafts. This is the result of changes in the formula of the
welding flux and that numerous welding parameters were incorrectly set,
which was not recognized until a new flux vendor--Bohler--provided
technical support to Collins in early November 2018. The Navy has
approved Collins' weld procedure for production and Collins will use
their new flux in production by the end of February. Additionally, the
Navy has taken action to expedite refurbishment of previously used VCS
in-service shafts. By a combination of the use of Bohler flux for new
construction shafts and the expedited refurbishment of in-service
shafts, impact is minimal to Block IV ship deliveries. The issue is
limited to one new construction hull with a four-month delay to need
date and not in the critical path of delivery.
11. Senator Hirono. Secretary Guerts, what is causing delays in
Newport News' ability to produce Virginia-class submarine modules on
time for themselves and for Electric Boat?
Secretary Geurts. Virginia-class Submarine (VCS) Block IV
submarines are under construction at both General Dynamics Electric
Boat (GDEB) and Huntington Ingalls Industries--Newport News
Shipbuilding (HII-NSS). Compared with the Block III contract, which
contained contracted delivery spans of 66 months and began the ramp up
to two-per-year submarine deliveries, the Block IV contract contained
reduced contract spans of 62 months for the first three and 60 months
for the remaining submarines. Block IV module delays from HII-NNS,
coupled with previously existing performance issues relating to labor
and material, will likely cause Block IV submarines to be between 3-to-
12 months late to contract delivery date.
Performance issues with module construction have been noted at HII-
NNS across Blocks III and IV. During Block III construction, these
issues were exacerbated as the shipyard was challenged to ramp up to
two-per-year VCS construction while experiencing a reduction in work
force, a hiring freeze, and quality issues impacting both modules and
final assembly and test. Early performance on Block III was impacted by
HII-NNS Structural Fabrication and Assembly (SFA). As a result, HII-NNS
submarines (SSN 787, 789, and 791) have construction spans of 870
months versus contract span of 66 months.
Block IV module construction performance has experienced a
degradation resulting from early material availability issues and
associated non-optimal work sequences, reduction in work force, a
hiring freeze, and SFA workforce efficiency. The two-per-year VCS
construction has continued to stress labor resources at both HII-NNS
A Navy led assessment team was assembled to analyze performance and
provide recommendations for improvement and mitigation of module delays
impacting contract construction spans. In addition to Navy
participation, the team also includes an experienced representative
from GDEB and HII-NNS. Based on the assessment team's recommendations,
the shipbuilders have evaluated the recovery options after performing a
detailed product review of every module. This review has allowed the
shipbuilders to determine which modules may need work offloaded between
shipbuilders to enable a recovery construction sequence. To address
enterprise issues, greater oversight and key workforce additions are
being implemented. Both the government and shipbuilders will employ
forward looking metrics, a focus on early construction and critical
modules/assemblies, and improved schedule tools to support and track
recovery efforts. Currently the Navy is expecting a return to on
schedule delivery by the end of Block IV.
aircraft carrier block buy
12. Senator Hirono. Secretary Guerts, section 121 of the John S.
McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 provided
the Navy the authority two purchase two aircraft carriers (CVN-80 and
CVN-81) under a block buy contract, subject certification of certain
facts by the Secretary of Defense. As a matter of policy, why should we
be rewarding Newport News for mediocre performance on building the CVN-
78 and on building attack submarines with a new contract valued at more
than $20 billion?
Secretary Geurts. Shipbuilder performance on CVN 79 has shown
substantial improvement over CVN 78, which was the lead ship of the
first new design of nuclear aircraft carriers in 40 years. CVN 79 is
performing at nearly a 19 percent recurring manhour reduction when
compared to CVN 78 actuals, and is on track for an early launch. This
reduction in manhours was made possible through continuous process
improvement that included design modifications that improve
manufacturing efficiency and maximizes the use of facilities.
Production efficiencies are being realized through the use of unit
families, pre-outfitting, and complex assemblies which move work to a
more efficient workspace environment; reduction in the number of super-
lifts; and facility investments which improve the shipbuilder trade
effectiveness. In addition, the CVN 79 single ship contract is a Fixed
Price Incentive Firm Target (FPIF) type contract and contains the
steepest shareline in any carrier construction contract to date,
offering the greatest incentive for the contractor to contain costs and
The Navy is committed to reducing and controlling the cost of Ford-
class aircraft carriers. The two CVN buy achieves maximum value for
taxpayer dollar, with savings expected to exceed $4 billion when
compared to the Navy's original estimate of the cost of buying these
CVNs separately. The $15.9 billion contract the Navy has negotiated for
the CVN 80 and CVN 81 ensures continued FORD Class cost reduction by
enabling the shipbuilder to build two ships to a single technical
baseline which allows it to maximize economic order quantity for
material, level load its shops and rollover engineering products. The
contract agreement for CVN 80 and CVN 81 includes an overall manhour
target that is a 22 percent reduction from CVN 79 including a
production manhours reduction equivalent to an 82 percent learning
curve. The FPIF contract type limits the Navy's liability and
incentivizes the shipbuilder to execute to the contract's aggressive
targets. Additionally, the contract includes special incentives beyond
the shareline that motivates the shipbuilder to control cost in the
areas of construction labor performance, material procurement and
through capital investments. CVN 81 will be a separate contract line
item under the same contract as CVN 80, which allows the Navy to
monitor performance on a per hull basis. The contract structure will
create a direct link between contract performance and realized cost
savings for each ship.
columbia-class missile tubes
13. Senator Hirono. Secretary Guerts, the Columbia-class program
has experienced difficulties with welding the missile tubes. You have
been working through possible mitigation plans to assess the impact on
the schedule for this important program. Could you give us your current
best assessment of the impact of these welding problems on the overall
Secretary Geurts. Our current recovery plan reduced the schedule
margin to 11 months ahead of construction need date for Columbia. To
date, the contractor has executed to this recovery plan.
14. Senator Hirono. Secretary Guerts, what is the likely impact for
our British partners on the program?
Secretary Geurts. We currently estimate an eleven-month delay to
missile tube delivery to the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom
continues to evaluate potential impacts such a delay would have on
their construction schedule.
15. Senator Hirono. Secretary Guerts, is this an example of the
Navy and contractor team giving insufficient attention that is
symptomatic of a larger problem with oversight of subcontractor
programs, such as was the case with the electric motors for the
Secretary Geurts. Yes, the Navy agrees these are indicators of
insufficient oversight of subcontractors. The Navy and Industry teams
are addressing this through corrective actions with subcontractors and
throughout the supplier base. Subcontractor management and conduct of
comprehensive supplier oversight are key focus areas for the Navy and
industry teams. Supplier readiness efforts, which began within the
framework of the Integrated Enterprise Plan efforts, were expanded in
late 2018 based on lessons learned from supplier engagements and the
Missile Tube (MT) issue. In response to the MT issue, the shipbuilders
performed a critique and developed a revised shipbuilder supplier
oversight and quality model based on a risk management framework which
will be fully implemented in 2019. As a short term corrective action,
both shipbuilders conducted Interim Supplier Assessments on MT related
suppliers and a portion of 20 other critical non-MT suppliers in late
2018. Additionally, the Navy's Supervisor of Shipbuilding teams in
Groton and Newport News, and Navy program offices conducted re-
evaluations of the government oversight processes and have identified
plans of action and milestones to improve processes in 2019.
16. Senator Hirono. Secretary Guerts, the Navy recently awarded the
multiyear contract for 10 ships, with 6 ships award to Ingalls and 4
ships awarded to Bath. Was this division of the 10-ship program related
to delays in production at Bath of the DDG-1000 and the DDG-51
Secretary Geurts. No, the award of the competitive fiscal year 2018
to 2022 DDG 51 Multiyear Procurement (MYP) was not related to
production delays at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (GD BIW). The
fiscal year 2018 to 2022 MYP ships were procured using a limited
competition between the current DDG 51 class shipbuilders, GD BIW and
Huntington Ingalls Industries, Ingalls Shipbuilding (HII Ingalls), in
order to generate the best price for the government and its taxpayers
while also helping to maintain the critical surface combatant
shipbuilding industrial base.
The MYP ships were competed using a combination of historically
successful competitive strategies primarily through Compete for
Quantity, with one Profit Related to Offer outcome also possible.
Outcomes included the potential for both shipbuilders to be awarded an
equal number of ships or for one shipbuilder to be awarded a larger
share of the workload. The minimum quantity awarded to each shipbuilder
was four ships. Possible award patterns included a 5/5, 6/4, or a 4/6
ship award. The award quantity of the 10 MYP ships was based on the
pricing scenario that provided the lowest total evaluated ceiling price
to the Government.
This overarching strategy continues the competitive environment
that the Navy has successfully fostered to contract for the procurement
of 77 (DDG 51-DDG 127) previous ships in the class and aligns with the
Department's priorities to deliver capacity and capability affordably
while strengthening an industrial base that is critical to achieving
increased lethality and resiliency.
17. Senator Hirono. Secretary Guerts, according to many Navy
studies, we need to keep two yards building large surface combatants.
With that in mind, what should be done to improve the performance at
Bath? What steps are being taken by the Bath shipyard to improve their
performance? What steps are being taken by the Navy to help Bath
improve its production performance?
Secretary Geurts. The Navy continues to work across the
shipbuilding industrial base to most efficiently produce Navy ships on
or ahead of contract schedules in order to meet Fleet requirements. At
any shipyard, including General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (GD BIW), the
Navy and shipbuilder need to work together in order to focus on
contractor cost performance, improve hull-to-hull learning and the
application of continuous improvement processes, hold to contract
milestone and delivery schedules, and provide procurement demand
To meet these objectives, GD BIW has focused on improving worker
safety and product first-time quality. Additionally, GD BIW has made
capital investments in its fabrication facilities to increase
throughput and better meet schedules. To ensure that shipbuilder best-
practices are communicated and process learning is maintained, GD BIW
has also focused on its hiring, training and apprenticeship programs to
enable the success of its construction workforce.
The Navy has also worked with GD BIW to enable the shipbuilder to
most efficiently execute its construction contracts. The Navy has
provided funding for Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) projects at the
shipyard in the past, and most recently in conjunction with the award
of the third fiscal year 2016 ship (DDG 127) and the Flight III change
on the fiscal year 2017 ship (DDG 126). The recently awarded MYP
includes provisions for future CAPEX projects. The Navy is supporting
GD BIW in its efforts to improve its production efficiency by
implementing Class II changes (shipbuilder corrections/improvements) in
its Flight IIA production design baseline and provided funding in
fiscal year 2017 to help ensure these changes were also captured in
Flight III products.
ship-to-shore connector (ssc)
18. Senator Hirono. Secretary Guerts, under the Ship-to-Shore
Connector (SSC) program the Navy has been developing a replacement for
the landing craft, air cushion vessels, or LCACs. This looked like it
would be a relatively straight forward development effort, but this
program is also behind schedule. Can you tell what is wrong with the
contractor's effort to produce these craft on time?
Secretary Geurts. SSC is behind schedule due to:
A factory fire at a subcontractor's facility (GE Dowty).
This subcontractor produces the propellers. Reconstitution of their
manufacturing capability slowed craft propeller production.
Unexpected vibrational concerns in the propeller test
stand slowed testing and required equivalency testing on the craft.
Continued testing of the Electrical and Command, Control,
Communications, Computers & Navigation (C4N) system revealed stability
issues, delaying testing completion while C4N software updates are
developed and implemented.
During testing, Craft 100 lost power and drifted into a
bridge. The subsequent grounding caused damage to the craft and delayed
operational testing and delivery.
Longevity issues associated with certain gearbox bearings
were identified during craft-level testing of the gearboxes and are the
most significant contributor to the current craft delays. Textron
Systems, Marine and Land Systems (TSMLS) is working with their vendors
to update the bearing design on certain gears to resolve this issue.
The U.S. Navy has a Fixed Price Incentive Fee contract with TSMLS.
TSMLS is working diligently to overcome the challenges stated above and
delivery of the first craft is anticipated to occur in mid-2019.
19. Senator Hirono. General Berger, will the delays in the SSC
program have any effect Marine Corps' ability to conduct amphibious
General Berger. No.