Saturday, February 4, 2017

Incomplete Delivery of Zumwalt

Here’s a stunning development in the Zumwalt saga that I wasn’t aware of.  From Breaking Defense website,

“It’ll be two more years before combat systems delivery occurs …”

Two more years!!!!!  Why did the Navy accept delivery of a ship that was that incomplete????

We’ve previously documented that the ship was delivered to, and accepted by, the Navy in a significantly incomplete state, however, the magnitude of that “incompleteness” is well beyond anything I imagined.

Congress is no happier with this situation than ComNavOps is.

“After the Navy commissioned theZumwalt in October and formally accepted delivery of the ship from Bath, Congress enacted language in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (Section 7301) defining delivery to occur only when “all systems contained” are ready and ordering the Navy to amend the Zumwalt class’s delivery dates accordingly. That statute should help prevent concurrency from rearing its troublesome head on future shipbuilding programs.”

Congress has resorted to explicitly telling the Navy what every person in the country, other than the Navy, understands:  a delivery is made when the product is complete and not before.  Only the Navy could be so stupid as to need to have that basic, common sense concept spelled out to them.  When you’re being lectured to by Congress over basic, common sense concepts, you’ve really hit rock bottom.  That’s embarrassing.

What’s the point of running builder’s trials and acceptance trials if the ship isn’t complete and you’re going to accept it regardless?  It kind of makes trials a moot point, doesn’t it?


Here is the Congressional language from S2943, National Defense Authorization Act, 2017.

Sec. 121. Determination of vessel delivery dates

(a) Determination of vessel delivery dates. –

(1) In general –

Chapter 633 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by inserting aftersection 7300 the following new section:
Sec. 7301. Determination of vessel delivery dates
(a) In general -
The delivery of a covered vessel shall be deemed to occur on the date on which—
(1) the Secretary of the Navy determines that the vessel is assembled and complete; and
(2) custody of the vessel and all systems contained in the vessel transfers to the Navy.


  1. I must have missed something, I was always under the impression it was going to take 2 years to finish all the installation of weapon systems and testing while based in San Diego? Is this old news or confirmation that more systems than previously thought are not installed?

    1. I was aware that the ship was delivered incomplete and would receive the remainder of equipment now. I was under the impressions that the entire delivery AND TESTING would be complete within 1-2 years. This is saying that delivery of missing equipment won't occur for two years with, presumably, testing to follow.

      The larger point of the post is the Navy's recent practice of routinely accepting significantly incomplete ships. That's just idiotic and wrong.

      I'd also like to know whether the missing equipment is included under the original purchase agreement or whether this a separate cost item that has to be added to the total cost of the ship's construction.

    2. I was visiting Bath, Maine, in early September on the day the DDG-1000 sailed from BIW for the last time. I was told at that time by a recently retired BIW yard operations shift manager that it has always been the Navy's intention to complete the ship's combat systems elsewhere.

      The DDG-1000 platform will always be an ongoing experiment in fielding advanced combat and engineering systems of one kind or another -- some that will become successful, others that will not. In that sense, the three Zumwalt Class ships will never be 'complete' as we think of that term.

    3. "Zumwalt Class ships will never be 'complete' as we think of that term."

      For the purposes of this post, "complete" means that the ship has been built and outfitted with everything that was specified in the construction contract. If it's not complete, you don't take delivery - it's really that simple and every non-Navy person in the country understands that.

      To your point about the DDG-1000's being test platforms,

      1. That's a heck of a price ($25B and counting) for three test beds. All of the pieces of tech could have been tested on alternate, cheaper platforms. I can even accept a single prototype (though $8B+ would be a staggering cost for a prototype!) but three is pointless. No ship is ever "complete" in the sense that modifications are always on-going - you're right about that - and moreso for a test bed vessel.

    4. CNO, let's remember that the Navy tried to cancel the DDG-1000 program altogether in the summer of 2008, but that the Congress forced them to buy three of these ships.

      In any case, restarting the Burke program, beginning in 2009, was going to take time because procurement of Burke-specific components had ended several years earlier.

      By the summer of 2008, the DDG-1000 design work was finished and its own long lead items were in the procurement pipeline.

      OK, eight years ago, while Burke Restart was getting its act together, what would BIW have done in the meantime with keeping its highly skilled workforce together and well tuned up if it hadn't been building the first of those three Congressionally-mandated Zumwalt hulls?

      The Zumwalt program's original objective of delivering a replacement for the Burkes has long been overcome by events, and no one who understands the full history of the program believes that these ships will ever be anything more than test beds for new technology.

      That's something they can do quite well, given that the knowledge and experience gained with all these new technologies will be useful and valuable for a long time to come.

    5. "Navy tried to cancel the DDG-1000 program altogether in the summer of 2008, but that the Congress forced them to buy three of these ships."

      I do not recall that as being the case. I've heard that the Navy wanted to cancel the entire run but the termination penalties would have been greater than the cost of constructing the three that we ultimately committed to. I don't know whether that's true or not but that's what I've heard.

      I've also heard the "Congress forced them to" explanation but I have found no evidence to corroborate that. Let me know if you can point me at some.

    6. "what would BIW have done in the meantime with keeping its highly skilled workforce together"

      This is a common argument used to justify faulty programs and it's incorrect. I've addressed it in many previous posts and comments. The short version is that the shipyards could have been kept more than busy (swamped!) with maintenance and upgrades. How many ships have we retired early because they were "worn out" through neglected maintenance? The entire Perry class could have been rebuilt, for example. The Aegis cruisers could have been upgraded as the Navy is now half-heartedly trying to do. The entire Spruance class needed/needs structural reinforcement. The amphibious fleet desperately needed upgrades and maintenance.

      There would have been so much work that the shipyards would have been unable to keep up. All the hollowness of today's fleet could have been addressed and we could have kept many more ships in the fleet instead of retiring them.

    7. "Congress forced them to buy three of these ships."

      Here's some excerpts from Wiki. The general tone makes clear that Congress did not "force" the buy and, in fact, funded the ships in a rather reluctant or ambivalent manner.

      -Wiki quotes follow -

      On 23 November 2005, the Defense Acquisition Board approved a plan for simultaneous construction of the first two ships at Northrop Grumman's Ingalls yard ... However, at that date, funding had yet to be authorized by Congress.

      In late December 2005, the House and Senate agreed to continue funding the program. The U.S. House of Representatives allotted the Navy only enough money to begin construction on one destroyer, as a "technology demonstrator". The initial funding allocation was included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2007.[16] However, this was increased to two ships by the 2007 appropriations bill[22] approved in September 2006, which allotted US$2.568 billion to the DDG-1000 program.[23]

      On 31 July 2008, U.S. Navy acquisition officials told Congress that the service needed to purchase more Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, and no longer needs the next-generation DDG-1000 class,[24] Only the two approved destroyers would be built.

      Navy Secretary Donald Winter said on 4 September that "Making certain that we have – I'll just say, a destroyer – in the '09 budget is more important than whether that’s a DDG 1000 or a DDG 51".[27]

      On 19 August 2008, Secretary Winter was reported as saying that a third Zumwalt would be built at Bath Iron Works, citing concerns about maintaining shipbuilding capacity.[28] House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Murtha said on 23 September 2008 that he had agreed to partial funding of the third DDG-1000 in the 2009 Defense authorization bill.[29]

      On 6 April 2009, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that DoD's proposed 2010 budget will end the DDG-1000 program at a maximum of three ships.[31]

      - Wiki quotes end -

      Congress is often blamed for "forcing" the various services to build an unpopular ship or aircraft and that I have found that that has rarely been the case.

      On a related note, the only instance of "forcing" by Congress towards the Navy has been along the lines of prohibiting retirement of platforms, such as Congress stopping the Navy from retiring Aegis cruisers. Occasionally, Congress will insert extra money for an extra aircraft or two that was not requested.

    8. CNO, the Wikipedia article spins the complicated history of the DDG-1000 program, and the long controversy that surrounded it, in its own way for its own purposes. The article doesn't do any kind of real justice to the true story what actually happened.

      To make a long story short, by the summer of 2008, the senior Navy leadership had recognized that the Zumwalt Class had been fundamentally misconceived both in its basic design philosophy and its operational concept, and that the program would never deliver on its promises where things really counted -- like in fighting an actual war.

      All Navy shipbuilding programs are heavily influenced by Congressional input. The Navy didn't name CVN-70 the USS Carl Vinson for nothing.

      This is one facet of what I label as the Politics Of Navy Shipbuiding Interminable (PONSI). Unpromoting and then cancelling an expensive DOD acquisition program, one which has been heavily promoted in public and in the Congress with great fanfare for some number of years, isn't easily done.

      In their opening negotiations with the Congress concerning DDG-1000 termination, the Navy leadership of 2008 wanted the whole program axed. But they had to have known they weren't going to get a deal that killed the entire program outright. They got the best deal they could, which was to truncate the program to three hulls and then to use those three hulls as research platforms for testing new technologies.

      As for using BIW as primarily a maintenance and upgrade shipyard, you are not exercising the same sets of skills in upgrading a warship that you are in building a new one from the keel up.

      Keeping BIW busy building new ships -- even the DDG-1000, a ship that will always be an ongoing experiment -- has to be viewed as an unavoidable and necessary component of the total cost of recovering from what was a completely avoidable mistake in managing the Navy's shipbuilding program.

      SECDEF Mattis has issued direction that readiness takes priority over systems acquisition. DDG-1000 is water down the Kennebec River. We have been given time to think about what the Navy's shipbuilding program ought to be focused on.

      Let's use the Zumwalt Class for whatever technology improvements we can get out of it, and let's start doing serious thinking about what the Navy's long term shipbuilding priorities ought to be.

    9. Scott, you and I lived through the Zumwalt history. I don't recall Congress forcing the Navy to do anything. Quite the opposite. Wiki conspiracy theories aside, their summary is reasonable and coincides with my recollection. The various CRS/GAO reports support the Wiki version of history. Here's one quote from a 2008 GAO report:

      "The Navy has already requested funding for a third ship and plans to contract for this ship with options for four more ships in fiscal year 2009. The Navy will not have enough data then on the actual costs of the lead ships to develop realistic prices for follow-on ships. As currently planned, all ships will be under contract and all but one under construction before the Department of Defense holds the production milestone review in 2013."

      This does not show a Navy reluctantly and grudingly being forced to accept unwanted ships. This shows a Navy eagerly attempting to get as many ships under contract as quickly as possible.

      If you can point me at any actual evidence to support the theory that Congress forced the Navy to build the ships, I'll gladly re-evaluate my position. Lacking evidence, the history seems pretty clear.

    10. "As for using BIW as primarily a maintenance and upgrade shipyard, you are not exercising the same sets of skills in upgrading a warship that you are in building a new one from the keel up."

      What skills are missing from extensive upgrades that are needed for new construction?

    11. CNO, the way of the world with large bureaucratic organizations is that rarely, if ever, are the true reasons why a major change in direction is being made documented in the written record. This is especially so when the topic concerns programs or projects which are in failure mode and which need to be either substantially redirected or cancelled altogether.

      What happens is that behind the scenes, out of view of the public and the press, frank discussions are held which highlight the problems and the issues and which eventually come to a conclusion about what must be done next.

      Rarely are those frank discussions and those conclusions documented in explicit terms and in written form. What happens is that an action plan is developed and implemented without an explicitly documented connection ever being made between the driving issues/problems and their associated corrective actions.

      OK, if they have chosen a rational path forward, doing so under exceptionally difficult circumstances, who cares if the bureaucrats didn't list all the reasons why they changed course? They did it, and that's what matters.

      Anyway, this is what the Navy and the Congress did with DDG-1000 back in 2008. They truncated the Zumwalt program to three hulls while they restarted the Burke program. There was nothing else they could have done otherwise without doing even more damage to Navy shipbuiding than had already been done before 2008.

      As for what the Navy says about the Zumwalt program today in the year 2017, nothing that the Navy's public affairs office says about the program indicates that it is anything other than a standard-issue warship acquisition program.

      But regardless of what the Navy and the defense press say about the DDG-1000, it is not a standard-issue DOD warship acquisition program and never will be. On the other hand, the Navy and the Congress have done what was necessary to salvage something of value from the Zumwalts -- even if it isn't what was being advertised fifteen years ago.

      As for what kinds of shipyard skill sets that are lost when ship upgrade work replaces new construction work as a shipyard's main focus, the most important skill set potentially lost is the ability to build a ship in component hull sections and major sub-assemblies, and then to marry those major hull sections and major sub-assemblies into a working, reliable seagoing system.

      This is a skill set which requires highly efficient and effective teamwork to achieve, along with having a well-tuned end-to-end ship subsystems delivery process. It's not something that can be easily maintained inside a specific shipyard without keeping new ships of some kind in the acquisition pipeline directed towards that particular yard.

    12. "behind the scenes"

      I'm sure you're cognizant of the fact that falling back on claims of unknown, undocumented, and unverifiable behind the scenes actions makes it impossible to argue the point! Only someone who was part of the behind the scenes action can attest to it. Of course, it's also possible that even such a person was unaware of other behind the scenes actions that negated what they thought was happening!!! As you can see, it becomes a never ending cycle of shadowy "maybes", that might or might not have happened. With all that in mind, I'll leave you with your view of what happened and I'll stick with mine. :)

    13. "the most important skill set potentially lost is the ability to build a ship in component hull sections and major sub-assemblies"

      I think you're vastly overestimating the degree of difficulty in assembling sections. It's still just basic metal forming, welding, etc. Instead of doing it in place, you do it off-ship and then move it. Yes, there's a degree of skill involved in simply moving the section but it's not rocket science.

      I also note that the gap between the end of Burke production and the restart was barely 4 years. Unless everyone at the facility all retired or left during that time period, there would be plenty of experienced workers still there after that short a time period.

      The real skill in shipbuilding is not welding or any other trade, it's project management and that's the same whether you're building a new ship or rebuilding an old one.

      Too many people make excuses for our poor acquisition decisions on the basis of "maintaining our shipyards". If our shipyards are really that delicate that some slight imbalance can bring about total collapse and ruin then we ought to find other shipyards that are a bit more robust and resilient!

  2. Additional background info on new Navy policy per the Zumwalt and CVN-78 Ford.

    Commissioning is now known as Phase I, though ship will only be deployable on delivery 2018, Phase 2 of construction. It has been mentioned that Zumwalt will be in BAES San Diego drydock for one year plus for before completion of Phase 2.

    The reason being costs allocated to Phase 2 will not charged to the ship and so bypass Congressional scrutiny but lost in post delivery budget, especially relevant to the not to exceed $12.9 billion in then year dollars cost cap of the Ford.

    The Senate Armed Services Committee May 18th FY 2017 report
    Similarly, the committee understands all three ships in the Zumwalt-class will employ a dual delivery approach with hull, mechanical, and electrical (HM&E) systems delivery at the shipbuilder in Maine and combat systems activation in California. In the case of USS Zumwalt (DDG–1000), HM&E delivery is scheduled for 2016 and combat systems activation is scheduled for 2018. The committee notes the President’s fiscal year 2017 budget lists April 2016 as the delivery date. The committee believes Zumwalt class delivery should be deemed to occur at the completion of the dual delivery approach, following combat systems activation. The committee is concerned the variance in the Navy’s definition of ship delivery may obscure oversight of the program’s schedule, including whether or not a project has breached its threshold delivery date. The committee is also concerned Navy ships are being delivered in various degrees of completion and then, after a period of availabilities and shakedowns, possibly several years later, the ship is delivered to the fleet for operations. CVN–79 and the Zumwalt class programs illustrate this practice. Therefore, the committee also directs the Comptroller General of the United States to submit a report, not later than March 1, 2017, that includes analysis and recommendations regarding the Navy’s process for fully delivering ships from the time the Navy takes custody of the vessel until the vessels are fully complete and ready for operations. This review should examine the Navy’s cost and schedule milestones throughout this process and how these milestones are reported to decision makers and oversight agencies. The review should also propose a common definition and criteria for Navy ship deliveries, including the associated dates

    Nov.2016 BAE Systems San Diego confirm award of USN contract for max. $192.7 million for the USS Zumwalt and Michael Monsoor.
    "Will begin work on the Zumwalt next month (breakdown of Zumwalt in Panama Canal might cause delay). Work on the Michael Monsoor will begin after the ship is delivered to the Navy. Under the new contract, the company’s San Diego shipyard will support the installation and completion of the ships’ combat systems and perform post-construction hull, mechanical, and electrical enhancements. The shipyard also will support the ships’ post-shakedown availabilities following the demonstration and certification of their combat systems and final sea trials.

    In addition to the shipyard’s work, BAE Systems’ Weapon Systems business will work on the ships’ gun systems, which will be capable of delivering ordnance against a wide variety of targets. The business also will install the ships’ Mk 57 vertical launch systems, which will provide the capability and flexibility of deploying existing and new missiles without costly, complex reconfiguration or maintenance."

    1. Good find on the SAC delivery comments.

    2. Will be interested to see if the Comptroller General report backs to the SASC by the March 1 2017 deadline on recommendations regarding the Navy’s process for fully delivering ships complete and ready for operations.

  3. You reported on the LRLAP round being rejected for the AGS gun. Using the copperhead round will mean the ship would need to be closer to shore and be put at more risk from anti ship missiles.
    Using LRLAP is expensive and the round could not be used for moving targets.
    This is another case of a weapon system with a cost problem and utility problem.

    1. The capability of the 155mm AGS system to handle anything other than an LRLAP multi-segment round -- it is actually a gun-launched, rocked-boosted gliding missile -- was deleted from the AGS specification more than a decade ago.

      As it was explained by people "in the know" to those of us who were highly interested in this topic in about the 2004 time frame, the ability to handle multiple ammunition types made the AGS gun system much too complicated and expensive to develop and procure, and so that requirement was dropped.

      The Popular Mechanics article is completely off base in claiming that some other 155mm round such as Excalibur could be employed in the AGS gun system as that system is currently designed.

      A number of expensive AGS modifications would be needed to handle the Excalibur projectile. If such a new program exists, then where is its Program of Record documentation?

  4. CNO after years of showing navy ineptitude you expected what? A ship capable of combat? After the AGS fiasco you wrote about.

    I digress. Without these issues you would have no reason for this blog

    However delivering a ship without a weapons suite borders on the absurd and I hope that trump appoints someone who changed navy thinking on deliveries and costs.

  5. Where are the fired Admirals and SESs? Why is NavSea still in operation or Spawar?

  6. So question is, given that there are no combat systems installed, how much was paid for the hull, and how does this compare to other comparable civilian ships, i.e. cruise liners with the same density of rooms, ice breaker external hull walls of same thickness etc..etc..

    Because I am pretty sure if you were to ring up any of the worlds leading commercial ship yards and asked for them to build out the hull of a destroyer they could....

    1. I'm not sure exactly where you're going with this but I think your assumption of the equivalency of civilian and naval "hulls" is flawed. Naval vessels, even the bare seaframe without weapons and sensors, are quite different from civilian ships. Things like armor, watertight compartments, degree of compartmentalization, NBC isolation, power distribution systems, acoustic isolation, and many other factors make naval vessels far more complex and costly.

  7. You know I've said this before, but for the price paid, the US could have purchased 3 Montana sized battleships, probably nuclear powered and gotten a much better deal.


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