Friday, October 28, 2016

LCS vs. Burke Construction Times

Here’s an interesting little tidbit.  What is the average construction time of an LCS (time from the date laid to date commissioned)?  Here’s the data.  I’m omitting the first two ships because they were the first of class and one would expect some longer construction times as the construction process was worked out.  Beside each ship is listed the date laid down, the date commissioned, and the number of months in between.


          Laid Down    Commissioned     Months

LCS-3     Jul 2009       Sep 2012         38
LCS-4     Dec 2009       Apr 2014         52
LCS-5     Oct 2011       Nov 2015         49
LCS-6     Oct 2012       Dec 2015         38
LCS-7     Nov 2012       Oct 2016         47
LCS-8     Jun 2013       Sep 2016         39

                                    Avg = 44 


 We see, then, that the average construction time for an LCS is 44 months with a record speed of 38 months.

Just for fun, let’s compare that to the construction time for a much larger and much more complex ship, the Burke class.  Here’s the same data for the six most recent Burkes.


          Laid Down    Commissioned     Months

DDG-107    Nov 2007      Nov 2010         36
DDG-108    May 2007      Oct 2009         29
DDG-109    Apr 2008      Nov 2010         31
DDG-110    Sep 2008      Jun 2011         33
DDG-111    May 2009      Oct 2011         29
DDG-112    Jun 2010      Oct 2012         28

                                    Avg = 31 


The average time to build a Burke is 31 months with a record speed of 28 months.  Interesting, isn’t it, that we can build a Burke in 28 months but it takes us 44 months to build the smaller, simpler LCS?  Worse, the longest Burke, 36 months, was two months faster than the fastest LCS!

Well, wait, you say, the Burkes have been in production for many years and the process has been optimized so, of course, it’s faster (setting aside the fact that the Burke is much larger and much more complex and ought to take longer, not shorter).  Fair enough.  Let’s look at Burkes 3-8 (we’ll set aside the first two just as we did for the LCS) when the production process was at the exact same stage as the LCS currently is.  Here’s the data.


          Laid Down   Commissioned      Months

DDG-53     Aug 1990      Dec 1993         40
DDG-54     Mar 1991      Mar 1994         36
DDG-55     Aug 1991      Aug 1994         36
DDG-56     Sep 1991      Jul 1994         34
DDG-57     Feb 1992      Dec 1994         34
DDG-58     Mar 1992      Mar 1995         36

                                    Avg = 36 


The average construction time for those early Burkes was 36 months.  Compare that to the 44 month LCS construction time.  We were building much larger, much more complex ships a lot faster and that was back in the 1990’s when didn’t have the benefit of the advanced computers and software to aid us in construction!

We can build Burkes faster than LCS’s!!!!

Okay, well that’s surprising and disappointing but it doesn’t really have any impact on anything.  It doesn’t really mean anything.  We’re not at war so what does it matter if a ship takes a little longer to build, right?  Wrong!

Simplistically, the cost of building a ship is the cost of the materials that go into it, the cost of the labor to build it (man-hours), and the overhead cost of the facility it’s being built in for the duration of the build.

Consider a simple example of a shipyard building one ship.  The materials are a known and constant cost for every ship of the type.  The man-hours are constant for every ship of the type.  However, the shipyard is charging us all their overhead costs for every day the ship is being built.  Overhead costs are utilities, the facility’s tax bill, salaries for everyone the shipyard employs but is not directly accounted for in man-hour labor charges (accountants, salesmen, lawyers, CEOs, secretaries, etc.), insurance, and so forth.  The longer it takes to build the ship, the greater the overhead charges and those overhead charges are significant.

Now, in practice, the overhead charges are not normally charged separately but are rolled into the man-hour charge figure.  Before starting construction (in fact, during the contract process) the construction time is known and the overhead charges for that time period are rolled into the man-hour charge.  Thus, just as we described in the simplistic description, the longer the construction, the greater the overhead charge which is reflected in higher man-hour charges.

So, to answer our earlier question, what does it matter if a ship takes longer to build?  The longer a ship takes to build, the greater the cost.  This is intuitively obvious and now you see why.  So, by having the LCS take 44 months to build, compared to 31 or 36 months for a Burke, we’re spending more than we should.  If a Burke can be built in 31/36 months, we should be able to build an LCS in around 18-24 months.  That would be a significant cost savings and might be enough to make us view the LCS in a somewhat different light.  Let’s be honest, much of the controversy over the LCS revolves around its “value” – the capability delivered relative to the cost.  Right now, the capability is little and the cost is a lot.  If the capability were a little and the cost were also a little, we’d view it differently or, at least, somewhat differently.

Why is the Navy accepting this kind of construction performance?  Anyone else see a problem here?  Maybe neither of these manufacturers should have been awarded contracts.


53 comments:

  1. Great post.

    I don't know for sure, but my guess would be that Ingalls and Bath have been building naval vessels for a long time; and the institutional knowledge allows them to excel at it.

    It would be fascinating for Ingalls or Bath (I've always been partial to Bath) to license build an LCS.

    All that said, I don't mind making a market for smaller ship builders, and accepting inefficiencies *early on*, so long as they improve. This doesn't appear to be the case with Austal or Marinette.

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    1. Great comment. If our goal is to "promote" smaller shipbuilders so that they may someday become viable alternatives to the existing shipbuilders then accepting a higher cost, initially, is completely justified. However, I see no evidence that that is what we're doing. It looks like we've simply locked into a pair of woefully inefficient builders and that's our fault for accepting them.

      I'm on record as stating that we ought to promote alternative builders. I wish that was what we were doing. However, choosing a builder who had never built a warship before isn't the builder(s) I had in mind promoting.

      Delete
    2. Sorry CNO,
      Don't mean to quibble, but isn't a builder thats never built a warship before the very definition of a new player/alternative builder?
      All the former competitors are now either out of business or have been swallowed up by the last 2 behemoths. So, by that metric, there is no american local competition any more. Other than new players coming into the market. Im sure you dont mean you're happy with DCNS or Thyssenkrupp building your cans.
      This could very well be the cost of having new players to that market.
      I personally dont believe that. These 2 new ships are expensive and I'm not sure what new capabilities they bring to the market.

      Delete
    3. "isn't a builder thats never built a warship before the very definition of a new player/alternative builder?"

      Yes, it is. So is a 5 year old child but I wouldn't want a 5 year old child to be given a contract to build a ship nor would I expect it to be successful if it happened. Similarly, proposing a company that has never built a warship before to be an alternative shipbuilder is foolish in the extreme.

      Viable alternatives include companies like Bollinger Shipyards in Louisiana. They've built the Navy's Cyclone class PCs and various Coast Guard vessels.

      Another candidate would be VT Halter Marine in Missouri. They've built various naval patrol ships and the Ambassador Mk III missile boat.

      Another example would be National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) in California. They've built various naval auxiliary ships such as the Supply class T-AOE class ships.

      You can research additional examples on your own.

      These are companies that have been in the naval shipbuilding business for some time, are experienced and with some support could advance to the next level of major warship construction to provide viable alternatives to the few, and often disappointing, choices that we now have.

      Delete
  2. The LCS program was paused from 2007 to 2009. The class variants did not reach stable production conditions until the advent of LCS 5 and LCS 6. Speed of construction is also no determinate on capability. Longer construction time is not necessarily related to the contract cost. LCS, like the DDG's is purchased in block buys of predetermined cost. The price of LCS (per unit) has also significantly decreased from over $700m for the first two units to between $450m and $479m for more recent buys.

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    1. "Speed of construction is also no determinate on capability."

      Who said it was?

      Delete
    2. "The class variants did not reach stable production conditions until the advent of LCS 5 and LCS 6."

      OK, if we eliminate LCS-3 and -4 the average construction time is 43 months instead of 44 months. To be fair, then, we also have to eliminate the two earlier Burkes which changes their average from 36 months to 35 months. It doesn't change the premise at all!

      Delete
    3. "Longer construction time is not necessarily related to the contract cost."

      C'mon, now, of course it is. The longer it takes to build a given item, the higher the cost. If we could build an LCS in one day, it would be cheaper than if it took us 1000 years. It's all about overhead costs. It doesn't get any simpler than that!

      Don't get twisted up trying to defend the LCS. Sometimes you just have to say, yeah, the construction times are not very efficient and acknowledge the problem.

      Is construction time inefficiency, alone, a reason to give up on the program? Of course not! To the objective observer, it's just a problem to be noted and acknowledged. Whether this problem, added to all the other problems, is reason to terminate the program is another question.

      Delete
    4. LCS is purchased by fixed price contracting to obviate cost increases by contractors. The villain in cost increases is the Navy itself when it demands changes/new equipment. This is one case where industry is not at fault and the Navy is responsible for over charges. Construction of the early LCS' was not efficient I agree. Austal put $300m and Marinette over $100m into their respective yards in order to improve LCS construction after the 2007-2009 program pause. It is practically unheard of for industry authorities to make this sort of capital investment in their facilities during an open contract.

      Delete
    5. I don't want to seem to be a Luddite but could it be possible that Burke's are easier to build because they were designed and built without advanced computers and software!
      Certainly the hulls seem to be of a much simpler design. Also the Burke's are not designed to be operated by a very small crew, that may also complicate the building process
      MA

      Delete
    6. Mark, one way to test a logical hypothesis is to take it to its logical extreme. If it holds up, it's likely valid. If not, it probably isn't.

      You're suggesting, if I understand you correctly, that the smaller crew size of the LCS makes building it more expensive. If that's the case, then a canoe, with a crew of one, should be more expensive than an LCS. Clearly, that's not true so the hypothesis needs to be revised.

      Similarly, to suggest that a Burke is easier to build because they were designed and built without advanced tools would suggest that if we really wanted to reduce construction costs we should use stone axes and clubs as our tools because they are even less advanced. Again, the hypothesis does not hold up.

      Rethink and try again?

      Delete
    7. "The villain in cost increases is the Navy itself when it demands changes/new equipment."

      You are absolutely on the mark, at least for the LCS program. On top of that, the concurrency approach to construction/design only further aggravates the cost overruns.

      Salute to you for recognizing that!

      Delete
    8. That's a very good way of testing a hypothesis.
      Am I correct in thinking that smaller crew sizes are achieved by increased automation? Could such automation increase building times?
      I admit my whole theory is a very shaky when comparing a Burke to an LCS. The Burke having much more extensive/ complicated weapons and systems.
      MA

      Delete
    9. Mark, automation adds relatively little to cost or build time. Automation mainly consists of additional sensors and automated valves/pumps or whatever you're automating. The equipment is fairly minimal. It's mainly a software exercise.

      Being a much larger ship, the Burkes probably have much more automation installed than an LCS. The LCS may have a higher density of automation but the Burke probably has more total automation just due to size. Just speculation on my part.

      If we're looking to explain the difference in construction times I think we need to look more to things like experience on the part of the shipbuilder and their trades, number of workers, and similar factors.

      Delete
    10. Anon, I deleted your comment and you know why.

      I check every post and comment for factual accuracy and delete any that are factually inaccurate. Opinions, no matter how unpopular, are welcome.

      There is a large area where a given set of information can be interpreted in various ways. This is where most disagreements arise. I have no problem with differing interpretations, even extreme or unpopular ones.

      Finally, I'll protect everyone's right to be treated politely and respectfully, including yours. You can passionately argue an idea but not a person.

      Delete
    11. "The Navy pays 50% of cost overruns up to a fixed ceiling."

      I deleted the comment that this quote came from. An inappropriate item ruined an otherwise excellent comment. Anon, feel free to repost the comment minus the offending item.
      ________________________

      That is an extremely common contractual provision. I don't know if it applies to the LCS contracts, specifically but I suspect it does.

      You're correct that there really is no such thing as a "fixed price" contract in Navy purchasing. What the Navy calls "fixed price" really isn't.

      Keep comments polite and respectful. Discuss the idea not the person.

      Delete
    12. I dont agree that adding automation is relatively inexpensive. Its the converse. Adding automation is extremely expensive.
      Its cheaper in the long run, if you save 100 crew, then your yearly running costs are hugely cheaper, (dont recall the number, but each crew man per year, including wages, training, keeping the bugger alive,etc, costs a bloody fortune).
      but, to get to the point where you can have a 3000 ton ship run by 50 men, you have a very large upfront cost.

      Delete
    13. "I dont agree that adding automation is relatively inexpensive. Its the converse. Adding automation is extremely expensive."

      Offer some data to support your contention.

      Delete
  3. Given LCS-6 and LCS-8 were built and delivered more than a year faster than LCS-4, Austal appears to have a handle on how to build their ships.

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    1. I think you missed the point of the post. LCS-6/8 still took longer to build than a ship nearly twice their size and complexity!!!

      Austal may have cut the build time from abysmal to horrible but it's still horrible!

      Delete
    2. I get all that. I was just pointing out some improvement by Austal and hopefully this is a trend that will improve.

      Delete
    3. Most likely it will level out at some point, and likely a lot worse than the Burke, a larger ship.

      Delete
  4. While your general idea is true and very much applies to construction of fixed items {buildings, bridges etc.} it does not take into account the differences as to how the ship production is managed and scheduled.

    Burkes are essentially built as near stand alone projects, the only move during construction being from pier to water. This is how most large ships are built.

    LCS being smaller ships can be built in a manner more similar to a production line, where they start on one end and move through stations to completion.

    Under the Burke model it is essential to complete the ships quickly because only so many spots are available in the yard and instead of moving the ship the equipment and crews are moved to the ship. Only so many spots, and separate construction crews can be made available. Under the LCS model the overhead cost is divided by the number of ships under construction at any given time, it is therefore actually more cost efficient to have more ships on the line at anyone time. What matters under this model is not how long the ship is on the line, but how often a unit moves on the line. LCS are at this point rolling out of each builder at more than 2/ year. So with a 3.5 year roughly build time the overhead is spread among 7+ ships in rough numbers. This is the same way all manufacturers of large capital equipment from cranes to airplanes analyze and amortize their unit costs.

    So if the lines were kept hot, Austal for example, could possible turn out an LCS every 3-4 months, as they right now have the production line capacity to have somewhere around 12 Navy ships on line at any one time (6-8 LCS and 4-6 EPF)They are not in any way inefficient.

    Burkes will never be cranked out at that rate.

    ReplyDelete
  5. While your general idea is true and very much applies to construction of fixed items {buildings, bridges etc.} it does not take into account the differences as to how the ship production is managed and scheduled.

    Burkes are essentially built as near stand alone projects, the only move during construction being from pier to water. This is how most large ships are built.

    LCS being smaller ships can be built in a manner more similar to a production line, where they start on one end and move through stations to completion.

    Under the Burke model it is essential to complete the ships quickly because only so many spots are available in the yard and instead of moving the ship the equipment and crews are moved to the ship. Only so many spots, and separate construction crews can be made available. Under the LCS model the overhead cost is divided by the number of ships under construction at any given time, it is therefore actually more cost efficient to have more ships on the line at anyone time. What matters under this model is not how long the ship is on the line, but how often a unit moves on the line. LCS are at this point rolling out of each builder at more than 2/ year. So with a 3.5 year roughly build time the overhead is spread among 7+ ships in rough numbers. This is the same way all manufacturers of large capital equipment from cranes to airplanes analyze and amortize their unit costs.

    So if the lines were kept hot, Austal for example, could possible turn out an LCS every 3-4 months, as they right now have the production line capacity to have somewhere around 12 Navy ships on line at any one time (6-8 LCS and 4-6 EPF)They are not in any way inefficient.

    Burkes will never be cranked out at that rate.

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    1. In other words, the current rate of production and cost is due to politics?

      Delete
    2. "Burkes will never be cranked out at that rate."

      From Sep 2012 to Sep 2016, each LCS manf produced (I'm using commissioning dates just because they're easier to get - they're a proxy for delivery dates - it's accurate over the long haul) 3 ships. That's 3 ships in 4 yrs = 0.75 ships per year.

      From 1994 to 2004, Bath produced 21 Burkes = 1.9 ships per year; Ingalls produced 20 Burkes = 1.8 ships per year.

      Delete
    3. "That's 3 ships in 4 yrs = 0.75 ships per year." There are factors the manufacturers don't control. Burkes have spent most of their production life and most importantly their early production life during years of generous and consistent budgeting and planning. LCS early life has been characterized by budget and planning turbulence, continuing resolutions and sequestration. What the gov't allows a manunfacturer to produce is not the same as what can be produced.

      This graph explains the low production numbers between 2012 and 2016:

      http://media.defenceindustrydaily.com/images/DATA_LCS_Budgets_Graph.gif

      Its hard to start ships before someone pays you to do it.

      Secondly, when a ship is "laid down" today has little to do with its actual production time. Components or whole sections of ships are often under construction for years before the keel is laid. As such overhead costs for administration and management are accrued over a much longer time than just the time of hull assembly.
      For a current example: DDG-113. First contract Dec 09, Fabrication begun Sept 2012, Keel Laid Nov 2013, Launch Mar 2015, Commissioning some time next year. So 7-8 years of overhead for that ship, 14 months of production before it was laid down, at least 50 months in the shipyard.

      Delete
    4. The data is what it is. Accept it.

      Delete
    5. >>3.5 year roughly build time the overhead is spread among 7+ ships in rough numbers.

      Anonymous, has anyone told you in your past that you're innumerate? Let me now join them.

      Assume annual overhead of y dollars/year

      y $/year * (3.5 years / 7 ships) = y/2 dollars per ship of overhead.

      Which is exactly the same overhead absorption per ship if the yard was cranking out 2 ships a year, like the Burkes.

      As a first order, overhead absorption will equal fixed costs divided by the mean number of ships delivered per year over the contract.

      In the LCS case, you should use CNO's figure of 0.75 as the denominator, so overhead absorption per hull is 1.3x (i.e. 1.3 years of overhead per hull), against Burke's 0.5x (6 months of overhead per hull).

      CNO is right. You're not.

      Delete
    6. Keep the comments polite. Discuss the idea not the person.

      Delete
    7. "Its hard to start ships before someone pays you to do it."

      You may have somewhat missed the point. The post is not concerned with production rate (starts per year). Rather, it is concerned with build times, once started.

      You're correct that the shipyard can't begin ships that haven't been ordered but that's not the point of the post. The point, again, is how long it takes to build a ship once it's been ordered.

      Delete
  6. Food for thought, since there have been frigate proposals derived from the National Security Cutter:

    WMSL-750 Laid March 2005, Commissioned August 2008(42m)
    WMSL-751 Laid Sept 2006, Commissioned May 2010 (45m)
    WMSL-752 Laid July 2009, Commissioned March 2012 (33m)
    WMSL-753 Laid Sept 2012, Commissioned Dec 2014 (28m)
    WMSL-754 Laid May 2013, Commissioned August 2015 (28m)

    Average 35 Months with a noticeable downward trend with the latest hull being 2/3 the time the first was.

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    1. To be consistent with the data handling in this post, you'd have to eliminate from consideration the first two vessels as allowances for "gearing up" production. That would make the production time average = 30 months which is well under the LCS build time of 44 months.

      Delete
  7. I'd say corruption.

    The big reason is that no doubt a few Admirals want cushy, high paying jobs after retirement at these companies.

    To that end, the taxpayer doesn't factor into consideration. That does make me wonder though about what would happen in a serious conflict. It would also likely see increased resources drawn due to the poor reliability of existing LCS ships.

    ReplyDelete
  8. BTW, CNO, I raised the point about shipyard overhead absorption and extended shipbuilding times back on your SSBN(X) post of early 2015.

    http://navy-matters.blogspot.com/2015/02/wait-what-now.html#comment-form

    We are killing the construction budget with ships that aren't designed for manufacturability.

    Every other industry understands that low rate production is incredibly bad. Except us.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. "We are killing the construction budget with ships that aren't designed for manufacturability."

      Please expand on this. What do you mean by "manufacturability"?

      The Navy factors in concerns other than pure speed of production when it sets production schedules. For example, the desire to maintain the industrial base and maintain a smooth and steady pace may, in the Navy's mind, outweigh speed/efficiency of production. Depending on your definition of "manufacturability", are you possibly conflating manufacturability and artificial inefficiency?

      Tell me more.

      _______________

      Aside: It's not at all a requirement but we get a lot of anon comments and it's often difficult to track which anon is making a specific comment. I sometimes don't respond to anon comments because of that uncertainty. You might want to consider adding a username to the end of your comments. Just a suggestion. Entirely up to you.

      Delete
  9. For every 3 LCS, we could build 1.5 or better ratio Burkes. I sure now which way i would be going if I was SecNav.

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    1. We've got 60 some Burkes now. If you were SecNav would you really think we need more? Maybe we need mine countermeasure ships more. Maybe we need dedicated ASW vessels to counter the non-nuclear subs that everyone seems to have. Maybe we need frigates more.

      I think your comment is without a logical requirements basis. You may or may not be correct but I suspect you haven't thought out our actual needs.

      Think about it a bit and then tell me what the Navy actually needs and why.

      Delete
    2. CNO; I hear the number of Burkes quoted frequently. And its true, we do have alot of these ships. But, and maybe this is a different post, how many of them are in shape to perform their mission?

      I.E. where I work we constantly upgrade servers as needed. We have a department tasked soley with keeping biomedical equipment in spec, and replaced with new if needed. Sometimes, this requires upgrading whole systems because the new equipment can no longer talk with old servers/OS's.

      The Burkes seem to perform a very precise role: Air defense against supersonic missiles. We know that the radar has to be kept up to spec. We know other equipment has to be kept up to spec.

      We also know that the Navy hasn't been doing maintenance like in the past; and has classified the INSURV results.

      How many of those 60 'Burkes can we count on to perform their missions?

      You've spoken before about how steel isn't cheap and air isn't free, so it can be cost prohibitive to make Frigates out of a 'Burke hull.

      But... if we are continuing to build new 'Burkes, and we have old ones that (may) have fallen out of the ability to easily and cheaply get upgraded due to age and overuse, might it not be an idea to take these platforms and instead of retire or fully overhaul them, simply overhaul the powertrain/hull and let them focus more on ASW instead of AAW?

      Delete
    3. The issue is not just the Burkes but every ship in the Navy. Before INSURVs were classified, the Navy was showing signs of failing across the board. The Navy is hollow, without doubt. How many ships are fully functional and combat ready? I'd guess very, very few, IF ANY.

      Making ASW frigates out of Burkes is still a questionable idea in my mind. I'd much prefer a smaller, cheaper purpose-designed ASW vessel. ASW is too challenging and risky to assign to ships that just happen to be available because they couldn't do their primary function. I can think of better uses for dilapidated Burkes (missile barge, strike barge, shore bombardment with 8" guns, etc.).

      Delete
  10. No expert but understand current build methodology imported from Korea is that ships and submarines now built in blocks and fitted out to levels of 80 to 90% undercover and so protected from the elements, with the great advantage of much easier access for the outfitting trades so saving build hours. The Korean rule being that build will not start until design and production planning 100% complete and all equipment to be fitted on hand, no concurrency. Outfitting will account for a large percentage of ships total build hours. Shipyards now using super-lifts to move blocks, Newport News installed a 4,600 ton crane capable of lifting 1050 metric tons end of 2012. Remember it was quoted that the UK RN PoW 70,000 ton carrier was achieving an alignment of its blocks within a millimeter on assembly.

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    1. In 2011 Maersk ordered twenty "Triple E" container ships (10 in February + additional 10 in June), for $3.8 billion from Daewoo. Deadweight of 165,000 tonnes, 25 knots, 400 x 59 x 14.5 meters. By June 2015 the last ship of the twenty was in service, average length of build per ship approx. 2 1/2 months as compared 44 months for a LCS seaframe. Not an apples to apples comparison but modern container are not simple ships.

      Delete
    2. That's not even a remotely comparable data point. The construction time for a warship includes fitting out of the sensors, electronics, weapons, computers, software, etc., little of which appears on a containership. Further, warships are highly compartmentalized as opposed to a containership. Each compartment requires separate heating, cooling, communications, electricity, water, and just plain additional steel.

      If you want to offer some comparison data points, which is what I assume you were trying to do, make them at least remotely comparable.

      Delete
    3. Understand your thinking, was unable to access enough detailed info. on the South Korean naval ships, sure detail will surface sometime :).

      Delete
    4. The point is not really whether or not a foreign shipyard can build ships faster than we can. The point is that within our own selection of available shipyards, we seem to have selected the slowest by a wide margin and it's costing us money for no good return. Everything about the LCS program has been poorly executed including the actual construction. Par for the course, I guess.

      Delete
  11. On the topic the Wisconsin was laid down in January 1941 and launched december1943, or just 35months

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    1. Again, not perfect, but how about CV 10:

      Laid down: 1 December 1941
      Launched: 21 January 1943
      Commissioned: 15 April 1943
      First combat deployement: Aug 1943.

      Am I reading that right that from time of laying down she was deploying for combat in 22 months?

      I know, different era; wartime construction, and different ships. But she was a CV. Its not like she was a DE.

      You do bring up a good point, though, CNO. Could the slower production times be okay with the DOD because of the unspoken intent that they want to stretch out the contract to keep the suppliers in business?

      Delete
    2. I wouldn't worry too much about trying to come up with more examples of larger ships being built in shorter time frames. There's probably lots. The larger point is what the extended build time means. Aside from monetary impact, there's also the question it raises about our ability to rapidly replenish losses in the event of war. There's the issue of the Navy's ability to assess and find a competent shipyard. There's also the issue of what we've come to accept as adequate performance. And so on. Those are the larger issues that are of more interest than just finding more data points.

      Delete
  12. CNO, in my opinion the biggest difference between today an WWII is that we no longer have a function shipbuilding industry. One with master craftsmen who knows how the to build ships without tons of paperwork, Marines Engineers and Naval Architects that are experts in they areas of shipbuilding. And most important, enough work to keep our shipbuilding expertise fresh and up-to-date.

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    1. OK, you've described the end state. That's fairly obvious to see. What you haven't described is how we got to this point. If we can understand how we got here (what mistakes we made, assuming this end state is undesirable) we can begin to understand how to reverse or fix the problem.

      So, how did we get here?

      Delete
    2. We have a non-existent shipbuilding industry due to a comedy of statutory, regulatory, and management bungles:

      - The use of safety regulations, intended to limit foreign competition, back-fired and forced ship owners to reflag their fleets almost overnight.

      - Environmental regulation hit the industry hard, combined with punitive lawsuits.

      - The industry failed to make strategic investments in facilities, tooling, and workforce. Building in controlled environments, robotic welding and fabrication, cooperative business arrangements were all decades late coming to the USA, and we still lag Europe and Asia. Sound familiar?

      - Our workforce is focused on short term wages, and not the broader issues of developing a competitive workforce. Unions in Europe and Asia are light years ahead of the USA, their workers are professionals, not laborers. Sound familiar?

      - There is also the issues of subsidies; I am not totally convinced, but here is a good summary: http://www.openandfairskies.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Cautionary-Tale-Foreign-Subsidies-Destroying-U.S.-Jobs.pdf
      Fixing the problem will be difficult and challenging, the profit margin on commercial hulls is akin to semiconductor pricing ~3% or less, so it is hard to attract and sustain the extraordinary amounts of capitol that will be required not just for the shipyards, but also for supporting industries (e.g. steel). We also face a hyper negative regulatory climate (environmental regulations), aging supporting infrastructure that is totally unsupported by local/state/federal government that create a hostile climate for manufacturing. Worse, is the situation regarding the labor pool.

      I am a staunch capitalists, but am also skeptical that absent nationalization of the industry and draconian tariffs on foreign shipping companies (many of which are our allies e.g. Japan, South Korea), we will have little improvement.

      GAB

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  13. "we can begin to understand how to reverse or fix the problem."

    Fixing the problem is a book. But I think for military craft we need essentially a multi-level focused effort, and one at least partially subsidized by the US government. I'm not normally that guy, but the market for ships is such that we are competing against government funded shipyards, or ones run by government funded chaebols.

    Educationally we need to make skilled trades a realistic path again. I'd love it if our unions became more guild like and less labor like (I'm not bashing unions, or promoting them. Had many family members in them) whereby they educate, and discipline, from within. I'd love it if our management became less concerned with next quarters profit.

    In the short term, I'd try to get contracts out to existing shipyards to revitalize MSC. I also think that until we get a shipbuilding industry in place that *can* crank out hulls at a high rate efficiently then we need to re-create the idea of a viable reserve fleet in which the ships are kept in good enough shape to be re-activated if need me.

    There's alot to that question.

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