The push to develop the Navy’s next-generation destroyer will be a team effort between General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding if the Navy and the Senate Armed Services Committee are successful.
Instead of competing for the main contract to build DDG(X), the service wants the two yards to take inspiration from the partnership agreement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding to design and build the missile. Columbia-class nuclear ballistics, multiple legislative and service officials told USNI News this week.
On Monday, the Senate Armed Services released its fiscal year 2023 authorization bill, which includes language directing the Navy to continue with the partnership agreement for DDG(X) without naming Ingalls and Bath. But the Navy wants the arrangement for those two shipyards, according to USNI News.
Citing a series of problems with the Navy’s surface ship programs over the past 20 years, the bill’s report language directs the Navy to adopt a similar partnership plan for submarine yards.
“The committee notes that many recent Navy shipbuilding programs, including the DDG-1000 and Littoral Combat Ship programs, have experienced significant cost increases, program delays and reliability issues due to defects in early acquisition strategies,” according to the language of the report associated with the bill that was tabled on Monday.
“As a result, the committee believes it is essential that the Navy work closely with industry to ensure appropriate design and technical maturity in the development of lead ship acquisition strategies. The committee further believes that DDG(X)’s acquisition strategy should draw on and leverage the best practices of the Columbia-class Integrated Product and Process Development (IPPD) contract, with integrated lines of effort in design, technological maturation and construction. ”
For Columbia, IPPD construction is centered on a digital design tool that allows shipyards and the navy to work simultaneously from the same set of plans to increase design efficiency and identify production issues before manufacturing. . While in the submarine association agreement, Newport News and Electric Boat build different sections of the same boat, in the DDG(X) arrangement, each yard would build a complete warship, according to USNI News.
The benefit would mitigate the increasing difficulties of bringing in a second yard to build the same design after an original reward, since all yards would be drawing up their manufacturing plans at the same time. However, the arrangement would limit work to the two yards and prevent broader competition for other shipyards beyond Ingalls and Bath, according to USNI News. Some lawmakers are skeptical of the lack of a broader contest, Hill sources told USNI News.
The House did not include a similar provision in its version of the NDAA that was approved earlier this month.
The next-generation destroyer is expected to follow the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser, an effort the Navy has attempted since the 2000s.
At the time, the Burkes and Ticos were to be replaced by the Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer and a massive next-generation 20,000-ton cruiser called CG(X). CG(X) was canceled for cost and the Zumwalts were reduced to just three as part of the fiscal year 2010 defense budget.
The Navy has since restarted the Burke line between Ingalls and Bath and adapted the hull to accommodate what would become the AN/SPY-6 airborne and anti-missile radar in Flight III configuration. Cementing a strategy for a Burke successor has been elusive.
The most recent strategy, unveiled in January, would take the Flight III’s combat system and the Zumwalt’s integrated propulsion system to create a combination that would be designed to deploy hypersonic missiles and high-powered directed-energy weapons, said Navy officials at the time.
“When we upgraded the Flight III…we took the entire lifespan allowance on that platform. All space, weight and power have all been allocated. There is not enough room on this ship to put a new combat capability that takes more horsepower or a bigger footprint inside the ship,” Katherine Connelly, deputy program director, said at the time. DDG(X).
“The first ship will focus on a new hull shape and a new integrated power system. We will use the proven Flight III ship combat system, so we are designing the ship with the flexibility and margins to meet the future of the Navy and the needs of where we are going.