Difficult decisions: Shipbuilding and cost-capability tradeoffs – Canadian Government Executive

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April 22, 2015

Difficult decisions: Shipbuilding and cost-capability tradeoffs

As one of the U.S. Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, Program Executive Office, Ships oversees the design and construction of destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, as well as a wide range of boats and craft for U.S. agencies and foreign military sales.

The office has a mandate to drive “affordability into shipbuilding programs while delivering critical warfighting capabilities to the fleet.”

So when budgets are tight and all departments are being asked to be more cost-effective with their decisions, wrestling with cost-capability tradeoffs is a daily occurrence.

Although the PEO mandate covers everything from Zumwalt and Arleigh Burke class destroyers to landing hovercraft life extension, ship-to-shore connectors, and a range of auxiliary and sealift capability – more than 17 ships are currently under construction and 24 are under contract – the office has been able to “generate cost savings and efficiencies” by setting priorities and emphasizing performance management while working with industry to ensure competitive pricing for multi-year procurements.

On April 29, Rear-Admiral David Gale and members of his PEO team will share their insights at the Shipbuilding Association of Canada’s second shipbuilding technology forum in Ottawa.

Developed in partnership with Vanguard magazine, the forum is an effort by the association and its president, Vice-Admiral (Ret’d) Peter Cairns, to engage the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian industry in some of the difficult conversations about cost and capability as the RCN moves forward on the largest shipbuilding program in its history.

During the association’s first forum in November, industry highlighted a range of innovative technology and solutions in ship design, propulsion, communications, complex systems integration and in-service support. Cairns now wants to push that discussion into the more challenging area of cost-capability tradeoffs, drawing on the recent experience of the USN’s ships office.

The forum will also feature a presentation from Commodore Marcel Hallé, the RCN’s Director General for Maritime Equipment Program Management, on the variables of ship design for long-term supportability and a keynote address from Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy.

For the complete program, please see www.shipbuildingforum.ca.

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