Monday, January 28, 2013

Navy is Thinking Outside the Box on LX(R)

Found this from January 16, 2013. Very interesting.
The Navy is interested in concepts for improving future amphibious ship affordability while still retaining warship capabilities. One approach towards this goal might be to use commercial design and build practice for as much of the ship as possible, and apply military standards only where necessary to achieve specific performance requirements. The Navy would like Industry perspectives on potential benefits and challenges to implementing such a concept. Specifically, the Navy requests information on:

o The feasibility and cost of building a Navy ship to commercial standards (as opposed to military standards), classed by ABS to Steel Vessel Rules (www.eagle.org), with the following capacities:

o 20,000 ft2 (1,860 m2) vehicle stowage space, with access to both well and weather decks, and with at least 13.5 ft (4.1 m) clear overhead

o Well deck capable of embarking either two Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) or one Landing Craft Utility (LCU)

o Troop berthing for 400

o 20,000 ft3 (570m3) magazine capable of stowing all types of USMC ammunition

o NAVAIR certified flight deck with two land/launch spots for MH-53E or MV-22 aircraft

o The feasibility and cost of imposing the following additional design requirements on the above concept:

o US Navy crew (approximately 350), with Navy standard damage control lockers & equipment

o US Navy combatant damaged stability standards

o Longitudinal bending moment dictated by Navy rather than being derived from seaway loads or ABS rules

o Grade A shock qualified emergency take-home auxiliary propulsion system

o Grade A shock qualified command and control spaces for government furnished electronic systems

o Segregated Grade A shock qualified Navy standard electrical, cooling water, and other distributive systems to service take-home auxiliary propulsion and other vital systems.

For the purpose of this RFI, assume that half of distributive system loads are to vital systems.

o US Navy firefighting systems

o The practicality of implementing a mixed commercial and military standards ship by designating certain compartments as reserved for military standard equipment, with the shipbuilder free to outfit all other compartments in the most cost effective manner that satisfies ABS Steel Vessel Rules.

o Labor and material breakdowns for any ship costs estimates.

o Explanations for how specific potential future amphibious ship requirements would affect costs.

o Contractual, specification, or other issues that might impact a mixed commercial and military standards ship program.

o Other ideas or suggestions for future amphibious ship affordability such as acquisition strategies, innovative total ship solutions, technology advancements, or design and construction concepts/methodologies.

It is desirable that data be received with unlimited rights to the Government.

Nevertheless, we recognize that proprietary data may be included with the information provided. If so, clearly mark such proprietary information and clearly separate it from the unrestricted information as an addendum.
I've highlighted the pieces I think are highly relevant here. The money for LX(R) is not going to change. It is $1.3 billion. If your budget is finite, as it is for this program, how can the Navy maneuver within a fixed budget?

Well, if I am reading this solicitation for information correctly, one way would be to trade some of the survivability of the ship for more survivability on shore. By that I mean it looks like someone is looking into what it might mean if some areas of the ship were built to a commercial (I read as below NVR) specification as a way of saving money and using those savings to add more options to the capability of the vessel in support of LX(R) features that help meet more aspects of the requirements stated by all parties.

This is a clever solicitation designed to encourage clever ideas.

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